Blame cartels, rogue supermarkets on sugar shortage, says regulator

MUMIAS, KENYA: Cartels in the sugar sub-sector and rogue businessmen have been accused of creating an artificial sugar shortage in many parts of the country.

Local brands have been missing in supermarkets in Western Kenya. Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and Kitale counties are among the worst hit counties.

However, the industry regulator sought to allay fears that there was a shortage.

"We are aware that cartels and some unscrupulous business people have been rationing the commodity in order to make unsuspecting consumers buy it at inflated prices," said Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Director General Alfred Busolo.

Speaking to the standard on phone, Busolo disclosed that 15, 000 metric tonnes of sugar were imported this month alone to take care of any deficit.

Sugar factories had earlier down played reports of the biting sugar shortage. Busolo on Tuesday confirmed that the factories had enough sugar in their stores. "Latest statistics shows we have close to 100, 000 bags of sugar of sugar in our factories stores meaning the shortage claims are farfetched," explained Busolo.

According to him, Kakamega North based West Kenya Sugar company has over 40, 000 bags of sugar in their stores while both Nzoia and Butali sugar factories have each 20, 000 bags which translates to over 4, 000 metric tons.

Butali Finance Manager Dan Kiyondi confirmed that the factory had thousands of bags of sugar yet to be released.

Busolo directed all supermarkets to acknowledged source of the repackaged sugar as required by the law. "Those who will be found breaching the provision will face the regulator's wrath."