In July this year, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya banned brown sugar imports as part of measures to protect the local industry and curb cheap illegal sugar imports.
However, the ban seems to have opened the floodgates for illegal importation of the sweetener and the government appears to be helpless.
One avenue that has raised eyebrows is the duty-free import quota that importers are allowed to get from Comesa countries.
Over the years, the trading bloc has allowed Kenya to limit the amount of sugar that comes from partner countries aiming to protect local sugar dealers. This year, it was capped at 250,000 tonnes.
By end of October, importers had imported 277,000 tonnes, raising queries as to how they had gone over the limit with the ban on importation of brown sugar still in force.
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Cartels have been importing sugar in total disregard of the quota due to their connections.
It is believed the cartels have already ordered for more sugar that is on high seas despite the not having licences to ship in import.
This shows lack of enforcement at a time when the government is fighting to resuscitate giant sugar millers such as Nzoia and Sony. Let’s not destroy this important industry by allowing sugar barons to have free rein.