State drafts new regulation to rev up ailing sugar industry
Agriculture PS says the sector has been operating on the whims of other players, but the improved rule will mandate the government to expedite certain decisions
The government is drafting a sugar regulation to bring sanity to the industry in the wake of poor local production, which has given cartels room to manipulate the market.
Agriculture Principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe said there was a sugar regulation in 2001 but to date, it has never been gazetted.
This has left the industry in the hands of tycoons who control the market, making Kenya to rely heavily on imports from Uganda, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and Southern African Development Community to bridge the deficit.
“The sugar industry has been operating on the whims of other players and we want to change this. This regulation will give the government the mandate to expedite certain decisions and demand adherence by players in the industry,” the PS said.
Lesiyampe added that the regulation will help to address the problem of delayed payments to sugar farmers as the government moves to revive the country’s struggling factories.
“It will give directives on how long a farmer should wait to be paid from the time of cane harvest. Currently, there is no law that is gazetted to protect farmers on this, so even if you go to court, one cannot win as it is not within the law. It will also address sugarcane poaching and where sugarcane has been burned,” he said. Lesiyampe urged the Agriculture Parliamentary Committee to enact rules and regulations that are progressive and protect farmers.
The local production is 635,000 metric tonnes, against an annual demand of 889,000 metric tonnes.
“We have a deficit of 250,000 metric tonnes including 150,000 metric tonnes of refined sugar. Kenya does not produce enough sugar to meet the local demand. We import from Comesa and East Africa especially from Uganda to fill the gap,” said Solomon Odera, the head of sugar directorate.
The country has in the last one week anticipated a sugar shortage after a section of retailers warned of scarcity. “We can’t get sugar. Only one guy – Mara (Transmara Sugar Company) has sugar,” Naivas chief commercial officer Willy Kimani told the Star.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority director general Alfred Busolo, however, assured the country there is enough sugar, having imported 6,000 tonnes last Friday.
“As of September 19 (Monday) we had received the 6,000 tonnes so there is no cause for alarm,” Busolo said.
This is part of the 15,000 tonnes the directorate planned to import this month, which is a 67 per cent rise from 9,000 tonnes imported in August. “The rest will come in by end month,” he said.
Employees at a sugar factory in Western Kenya