Govt. to import sugar as shortage pushes prices to new highs
The government has announced plans to import 100,000 metric tons of sugar over the next three month to ease the current shortage in the market.
The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) attributes the shortage to a drop in sugarcane production within Kenyan and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region that has affected supply.
Kenya is traditionally a sugar deficient country, with production of 600,000 tons of sugar against a demand of 870,000 tons.
The deficit is met through strict import controls, which AFA says will have to be relooked to normalize sugar supply across the country.
“We wish to assure Kenyans that all efforts are being made to ensure adequate sugar is available and there should be no cause for alarm,” AFA interim director general Alfred Bussolo said in a statement in the dailies.
The Agriculture and Food Authority expects to receive 40,000 metric tons of sugar from COMESA countries within three weeks with the remaining 60,000 metric tons coming in over a two month period.
The sugar scarcity has already seen retail prices sky rocket, hitting a high of Sh335 for a two kilogram pack.
Almost all millers have experienced supply challenges with only Kabras Sugar available in most outlets.
Supermarkets have also moved to limit bulk buying, with consumers restricted to a maximum of two packets per purchase.
Mr Bussolo has however issued a warning to millers, distributors and wholesalers hoarding sugar.
“Distributors and wholesalers holding sugar should release the stocks into the market immediately,” he said.
The authority said it would work with the Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya Revenue Authority to ease clearance of imported sugar at the port and other border points.
Already the sugar directorate at AFA has projected a 1.9 million tone cane shortage owing to the current drought.
Kenya has over the year experienced sugar production challenges with state owned mills unable to keep up with demand.
Plans to privatize at least six government owned sugar mills has also stalled, further crippling the country’s ability to meet consumer demand, opening the window for imports.
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