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Farmers want sugar imports regulation effected now

By Moses Nyamori | June 25th 2020

Farmers at Lugusi in Malava ferrying cane to Butali Sugar Mill on June 22, 2020. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Sugarcane farmers have demanded for immediate implementation of sugar imports regulations to end smuggling of the sweetener from neighbouring countries.

The farmers have singled out the country’s porous border as the main source of the flooding of the local markets with cheap and illegal sugar.

They have taken issues with some of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) member countries for abusing the Rules of Origin to import sugar from Brazil then proceed to export to Kenya.

Michael Arum of the Kenya National Alliance of Sugarcane Farmers Organisation (KNASFO) said dumping of sugar has reached a crisis level, leaving local farmers with no market for their produce.

"Despite the fact that Kenya has ratified a continental free trade area agreement that allows free movement of goods between African States, illegal import of sugar is now getting to crisis levels," said Arum.

"As we speak today, millers remain stranded with bags of sugar in their warehouses as cheap imports from as far as Brazil, Australia and Indonesia find their way in the country disguised as sugar from Comesa States," he added.

The official yesterday called on the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to introduce regulations that will protect Kenyan farmers from unscrupulous traders exploiting porous borders to import the commodity.

KNASFO chairman Saulo Busolo, while lauding CS Munya for gazetting the Crops (Sugar) (General) Regulations 2020, said the guideline failed to capture the issue of import.

"Import remains the elephant in the room and must now be nipped in the bud to make cane farming a viable undertaking," he said.

The officials said high cost of production has made it difficult for locals to compete with the cheap imports from neighbouring countries. So much so that some unscrupulous millers had resorted to importing sugarcane from other countries.

The officials pointed out that the low capacity of the local mills has also pushed over 40 per cent of cane farmers in Nyando sugar belt to abandon the crop.

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