By Nsunjo Erica
Kenya Sugar Manufacturers Association (KESMA) through a letter requested Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to have the ban on sugarcane importation lifted.
According to KESMA Chairman Jayanti Patel, in the letter dated August 3, 2020, one of their largest miller, Busia Sugar Industry requested that the sugarcane ban be lifted with regards to the variety of raw cane for milling.
Chairman Jayanti Patel added that the Busia Sugar industry currently needs to supplement its sources so as to be able to mill capacity.
“Busia Sugar Company is already working on enhancing sugarcane farming in the country. However, in the meantime they need a solution,” added Patel.
KESMA added that Busia Sugar Industries is one of their largest and longest millers and that currently, the miller is being challenged by a low supply of sugarcane.
‘’According to KESMA, lifting the ban on sugar importation from Uganda will not cause any conflict of interest whatsoever as a local supply of the crop is currently insufficient following disruptions by the pandemic.
“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.
According to the Chairman of Western Development Initiative Association (WEDIA) Joseph Barasa, the little cane available is on the low land, making harvesting hard and causing factory operations to struggle.
Joseph Barasa however says that Kenyan farmers have been encouraged to plant more sugarcane as cane from outside can only be allowed in when there is a scarcity of raw material.
Ban on importation of brown sugar
The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, 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.