A farmers’ lobby has asked Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to revoke all sugar import licences and issue them a fresh after strict vetting.
This, it said, will curb unscrupulous trade deals. The farmers also want millers allowed to import sugar based on deficits in their respective factories and not individual businessmen.
Kenya Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Secretary-General Ezra Okoth, Kenya Sugarcane, and Allied Products Chairman Charles Atyang also called for strict import controls. “We want local sugar millers to be given the opportunity to import based on the shortages in their warehouses, not the individual businesses,” said Okoth.
Mr Okoth claimed the licencing individual importers were to blame for the excess imports that had occasioned glut in the local market. Mr Atyang, too, said regulation of sugar imports will ensure local factories are protected against unfair competition by global peers.
The farmers ‘representatives who spoke as Kenya Sugar Millers Association (Kesma), are backed the proposals by the National Sugar Task Force Report to curb cheap imports from Comesa.
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Physical checks in some supermarkets revealed that while the sugar packaged in the supermarket brands retailed at between Sh106 to Sh115 a kilo, local ones sold at Sh130
The locally branded Sony, Chemelil, Mumias, Nzoia were evidently missing in the market including on supermarket shelves and shops.
“They are rarely found in shelves nowadays because of the shortage of supplies and costs. Directorate should tell us where the sugar they brand comes from,” Okoth argued
Union officials claimed some supermarkets stocked sugar branded in their names - whose manufacturers can’t be traced.
“The supermarkets don’t own or produce sugar. So it means they package imports or sugar produced elsewhere which if not checked can compromise quality,” argued Atyang
Kesma Chairman Jayanti Patel said imports were to blame for poor pricing of local sugar, and welcomed the new measures to curb the influx of cheap imports into Kenya.
Increased imports have seen the factory price drop at Sh4,366 from previous Sh4,662 for a 50-kilo bag.
In its report last year, Sugar Directorate placed the price of branded sugar such as Khetias, Raha, Economy, Nutrimeal, Tumaini, Shivling, Tuskys Sugar, 5 Star, Naivas sugar, Choppies at Sh106 per kilo.