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 Star (Kenya) - - News - AGATHA NGOTHO AND WEITERE MWITA @TheS­tarKenya

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.

/ FILE

Em­ploy­ees at a su­gar fac­tory in Western Kenya

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