ILLEGAL IMPORTS

Cane farmers petition government over sugar smuggling

They said the situation would affect the livelihoods of cane farmers.

In Summary
  • They said that they were dismayed by the silence by critical government agencies. 
  • The petition said that rampant sugar smuggling particularly from Uganda into the country has affected sales.
Kenya Association of Sugar and Allied Products secretary general Peter Odima in Busia.
Kenya Association of Sugar and Allied Products secretary general Peter Odima in Busia.
Image: HILTON OTENYO

Sugar cane farmers from Western have petitioned the government to act on the rampant smuggling of cheap sugar into the country and save the sugar sub-sector from imminent collapse. 

The farmers, in their petition presented by the Kenya Sugar and Allied Products (Kasap) said availability of cheap sugar whose origin remains a mystery has resulted in market distortion in Kenya. 

They said that they were dismayed by the silence by critical government agencies including KRA, DCI, National Police Service (NPS) and intelligence services about the ongoing sugar smuggling. 

The petition is addressed to agriculture, fisheries and livestock CS Peter Munya, his Industrialisation, trade and enterprise development counterpart Betty Maina and Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang’i. 

“We are concerned about the social effect that smuggling in particular is having on our farmers who are now exposed to disproportionately high road fatalities as well as diversion of youth from skills development activities to opportunistic criminal activity offered by the smugglers,” the petition reads. 

They said the situation would affect the livelihoods of cane farmers and result in increased insecurity and low cane production if it’s not checked.

The petition said that rampant sugar smuggling particularly from Uganda into the country has affected sales by local sugar companies since smuggles sugar is cheaper. 

“The local sugar doesn’t, Kenyan factories cannot pay farmers for crop supplied to the factory for crushing. This demoralises the farmers, most who quit cane farming for other crops and further reduce availability of cane for the local millers,” it says. 

They say that much of the smuggled sugar from Uganda is sold in Western parts of the country thus denying the same farmers growing sugarcane from accessing quality safe Kenyan sugar and instead their hard-earned money goes to the questionable products.

The farmer said that CS Munya banned importation of sugar and raw sugarcane from Uganda in July 2020, a move that seems to have spurred smuggling of the product.

Western regional police commander Perris Kimani said that police had mapped out all routes used for smuggling of sugar and increased patrols.

Police have in the recent past impounded uncustomed sugar imported into the country from Uganda through loopholes.

The farmers said that activities by the smugglers was leading to loss of innocent lives through speeding along the Busia-Kisumu and Busia-Mumias roads by smugglers who are fleeing from the law enforcers.