Cane growers raise alarm over impending sugar importation

Richard Ogendo

Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association (KESGA) Secretary General Richard Ogendo addresses the media in Kisumu in this file picture.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The growers have accused the Ministry of Agriculture of failing to reign over the dumping of sugar into the country.
  • Kenya Association of Sugarcane and Allied Products calls on the Ministry of Agriculture to make public the list of sugar importers.

Cane growers have raised alarm over an impending importation of 57,473 metric tonnes of sugar aimed to cover the deficit of the sweetener under Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) safeguard for 2020.

The growers have accused the Ministry of Agriculture of failing to reign over the dumping of sugar into the country and continuing to render the local factories untenable, thereby impoverishing millions of stakeholders who depend on the sector.

Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association (Kesga) Secretary General Richard Ogendo, while terming the move as a scheme to illegally bring in sugar into the country, argues that the Comesa quota for 2020 was exhausted.

Citing the October 31, 2020 notice issued by Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), Mr Ogendo stated that the 2020 import was fulfilled.

“This is a very clear indication that some well-connected individuals have already been identified to flood the Kenyan market with duty-free sugar imports at the expense of the ailing industry,” he said.

In this regard, Mr Ogendo called on Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to ensure that any entity importing sugar into the country are charged applicable import duty as a way of cushioning cane farmers from the cheap imports.

“The import will instantly depress the prices and we are going to court to block them from releasing the sugar into the market. Some fraudulent ministry officials are out to completely kill this industry,” he stated.

According to a notice by KRA acting Commissioner for Customs and Border Control Pamela Ahago, their review indicates that sugar imports from March 1, 2020 to October 2020 was only 192,527 metric tonnes of the allocated quota of 250,000 metric tonnes.

List of sugar importers

“Consequently, there is a balance of 57,473 metric tonnes of sugar to be cleared under Comesa framework for the remaining period till February 28th 2021,” said the memo seen by Nation.

The KRA commissioner called on their officials to facilitate clearance of the consignments for companies that have imports from AFA.

On the other hand, she exempted 10 companies with a total volume of 10,000 metric tonnes lying in various Container Freight Stations in Mombasa from the import permit requirements.

The companies include Big Two Commodities Ltd, Commodix Ltd, Fixate Commodities, Niate Commodities, Ifox Commodities, Pacematt Commodities, Option Two Ltd, Pillarmatt Ltd, Niang Commodities Ltd and Pricematt Ltd.

Kenya Association of Sugarcane and Allied Products (Kasap) chairman Charles Atyang’ however called on the Ministry of Agriculture to make public the list of sugar importers for the sake of transparency.

He noted as alarming that the import is coming in at a time Kenya has entered into an agreement with the neighbouring Uganda to bring in 20,000 metric tonnes of sugar.

“The government should also factor illegal sugar that got into the country through Busia border to avoid creating sugar glut and cause further damage to our economy,” he added.

AFA acting director general Anthony Muriithi however refused to comment on the matter even as Mr Ogendo said they will push for his resignation for failing to curb on cartels who are creating havoc in the industry.

“We also call on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to launch probe into matter for the sake of stakeholders who continue to suffer,” he said.

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