The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has suspended, with immediate effect, the importation of brown sugar into Kenya in an attempt to help the local industries grow.
Making the announcement, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mr. Peter Munya said the flooding of cheap imported sugar from other countries into the Kenyan market has played a major role in bringing the local factories to their knees.
On top of suspending the importation of brown sugar into the country, Mr. Munya also suspended the pre-shipment approvals and extensions of all sugar import permits immediately, until further notice. At the same time, the CS has also suspended the importation of raw cane into the country.
“We are further prohibiting the importation of raw cane with immediate effect and all applications for brown sugar imports shall also be subjected to the sugar imports/export regulations that are soon to be gazette,” said the CS.
According to Mr. Munya, the importation of raw cane and brown sugar into the country has been uncoordinated for years and that the move has always rendered the local factories uncompetitive.
“Ex-factory prices for the mills remain at Sh4,200 per 50-kg bag. The price per tonne is Sh85, 260 compared to the Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) for imported sugar, which stands at Sh60, 117. This scenario clearly explains why Kenyan sugar is struggling to compete with imported sugar in the local market,” the CS added.
The move by the Ministry of Agriculture is part of the government’s effort to resurrect the dying sugar sector in the country. Analysts, however, say the efforts are too little, too late and that the impact might not be felt in the sector.
“I have directed the Sugar Directorate of Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to ensure that the new sugar importation guidelines give no provision for the extension for existing brown sugar import permits,” he said.