SUGAR SECTOR

Farmers demand probe on firms licensed to import sugar

The growers' official claims that 50,000 tons of the sweetener will be imported

In Summary

• The Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association secretary-general claimed that the growers no longer have confidence in the minister.

• The country's annual sugar consumption is 800,000 tons against local production of 600,000 tons, leaving a deficit of 200,000 tons to be plugged through importation.

 

Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association Secretary General Richard Ogendo
Image: MAURICE ALAL

 

Sugarcane farmers have called for a probe on allegations some companies have been licensed to import sugar. 

The Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association is concerned that the Ministry of Agriculture has allowed the importation of 50,000 tons of the sweetener.

 

Secretary-general Richard Ogendo on Monday accused Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri of derailing efforts to revive sugar industries.

“It has come to our attention that the ministry of agriculture through the sugar directorate has issued a substantial number of import licences to sugar importers,” Ogendo said in a press statement.

The association asked Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to promptly investigate the companies issued with the licences. 

Ogendo said there is no need to license more importers because the local sugar supply has improved significantly.

He claimed the ministry had consistently sabotaged the revival of the sugar industry by encouraging imports. “As farmers, we want to know those behind the licensing and why, especially when the government is trying to revive the public sugar factories,” he said.

The official said farmers had lost confidence in Kiunjuri and want him to quit.

The country’s annual sugar consumption is 800,000 tons against the production of 600,000 tons. The 200,000-ton deficit has to be imported.

 

Ogendo, who was accompanied by National Federation of Farmers treasurer Stephen ole Naropa and Small-scale Sugar Growers Association secretary-general Vitalis Okinda,  said that farmers have been enjoying improved prices and that the market had significantly stabilised.

He said the livelihoods of thousands of Kenyans depend directly or indirectly on the sugar industry.

“We will not allow Kiunjuri to mess with our livelihood and shall petition Parliament to start the process of his removal as soon as it convenes,” he said and announced that farmers will hold protest rallies at Kilimo House until all the "illegitimate licences are cancelled".

Ogendo said they will also move to court to block the sugar importation.

“We are telling importers that they should import sugar at their own risk. It is sad that if these massive imports are allowed. Farmers risk being paid a net of Sh1,700 per ton, down from Sh3,700,” he said.

Efforts to get CS Kiunjuri's comment were unsuccessful by press time. He neither answered the phone nor responded to text messages.