• The private sector expressed concern over the potential ramifications of the regulatory inadequacies.
• Particularly, the slowed development of industry legislation and the influx of cheap imported sugar.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance has joined sugar industry stakeholders in calling for a revamp of the industry.
Kepsa, through the Agriculture Sector Network, convened a private sector consultative meeting on Wednesday to discuss the challenges afflicting the sugar industry which has been a subject of protracted public debate.
The involved key private sector players engaged across the Sugar Value Chain-ranging from producers and growers to the millers.
During the meeting, the private sector, expressed concern over the potential ramifications of the regulatory inadequacies and perennial challenges afflicting the industry.
Particularly, the slowed development of industry legislation and the influx of cheap imported sugar which is detrimental for the industry growth.
"I find it fascinating that a sector which employs close to 10 million people is not as well recognised or respected in the general public as it should, it is shocking, ” Kepsa Director Bimal Kantaria said.
"We need to have a common ground for us to achieve any progress and this is why we are here to work together towards a common goal of revitalizing the industry."
Last week, sugarcane farmers in the Western region accused the government of failing to regulate the cheap sugar imports choking the industry.
The farmers say the government is not doing enough to protect the industry from unfair competition.
According to the industry data, sugar cane production has been on a downward trend with production having declined from 635,700 tonnes in 2015 to 491,000 tonnes of milled sugar in 2018.
On the other hand, the imports have been on a steady incline, which portends a bleak future for the industry. Besides, the livelihood of over 6 Million Kenyans is at risk if the current stalemate affecting the industry persists.
With the data in mind, the private sector agreed to pursue the development of an apex sugar industry federation to consolidate the fragmented private sector voices.
The sugar industry players have appointed Asnet to take lead in moderating affairs between the Government and the Sugar Millers and Farmers.
It was resolved that there is a need for the development of the Sugar Policy, Sugar Act and the Sugar regulations to fill up the regulatory lacuna afflicting the sector.
The Sugar Bill 2019 is currently at the Committee Stage in Parliament.
Edited by CM