Kenya Sugar Manufacturers Association (KESMA) has written to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya seeking to have the ban on sugarcane imports lifted.
KESMA says that, one of their millers, Busia Sugar Industries is currently challenged by low supply of sugarcane.
“The miller has requested that the sugarcane ban be lifted with regards to the raw cane for milling as they need to supplement their sources so as to be able to mill capacity,“ said KESMA chairman Jayanti Patel, in the letter dated August 3, 2020.
KEMSA says that the situation of low sugarcane supply is as a result of low uptake of sugarcane farming in the Busia Region.
“Busia Sugar Company is already working on enhancing sugarcane farming in the country. However, in the meantime they need a solution,” added Patel.
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KESMA stated that lifting the ban on the supply of sugarcane from Uganda will not cause any conflict of interest whatsoever as local supply of the crop is currently insufficient.
“The situation is only temporary and once enough cane has been developed and available, importation of the same will be unnecessary. Kindly take the necessary action to boost sugar production for the local market,” said Patel.
The Chairman of Western Development Initiative Association (WEDIA) Joseph Barasa said that the little cane available is on the low land making harvesting more problematic and causing factory operations to struggle.
“However, farmers have been encouraged to plant more sugarcane as cane from outside can only be allowed in when there is scarcity of raw material,” added Barasa.
WEDIA is a lobby group that fights for the rights of the farmers.
In July, CS Munya banned importation of brown sugar to tighten the measures on illegal sugar imports in order to close the loopholes.
The orders further state that the importation of raw sugarcane into the country is prohibited and that all applications for the importations of brown sugar shall be subjected to the sugar imports/exports regulations soon to be gazetted.
Munya said that the Ministry of Agriculture will work closely with counterpart agencies to intensify cross border surveillance along the Kenya Uganda border to ensure that there is no smuggling of raw sugarcane from Uganda into the country for milling in Kenya.
“I have also directed the Kenya Sugar Directorate to ensure that all these orders are complied with and implemented with immediate effect,” he said.
It is alleged that huge quantities of cheap sugar are lying at the Port of Mombasa after finding its way into the Country even as the Agriculture announced the ban on brown sugar importation.