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Cane farmers want Kiunjuri to resign over cheap imports

Monday November 11 2019

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri whom sugarcane farmers want to resign saying he has failed to stop cheap imports. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Sugarcane farmers are disappointed with low pay for their produce due to the cheap sugar imports that have flooded the market.

In a statement, the farmers demanded the resignation of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, saying he has failed to protect their interests.

Further, the growers said it is regrettable that sugar cartels continue to control the industry.

Led by national treasurer Stephen Narupa, Kenya Federation of Sugarcane Farmers officials said most State-owned mills in western Kenya are down, leaving growers at the mercy of private factories.


The average cane price is Sh3,500 per tonne from Sh4,300 about two months ago.


“We have enquired from the private mills why this is so and we have been told that the market is flooded with cheap imports,” said Mr Narupa.

Sugar imports grew 102 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2018, causing the ex-factory price of the sweetener to fall marginally.

The Sugar Directorate said imports between January and June stood at 200,442 tonnes compared with 99,144 in the corresponding period last year.

Sugar production declined by six percent in the reviewed period compared with last year.


“Overall sugar imports in January to June 2019 totalled 200,442 tonnes against 99,144 tonnes in the same period last year in what is attributed to de-pressed table sugar imports in 2018 due to huge stocks of cheap commodity,” said the directorate.

Increased imports have seen ex-factory cost drop to close the month of June at Sh4,366 from previous Sh4,662 for a 50kg bag.

“Due to the increasing pressure from cheap sugar imports, the price trend in-verted downwards in June 2019 resulting in a monthly average of Sh4,366 per 50kg bag,” states the report.


Total sugar sales in the reviewed period were 241,783 tonnes compared with 247,206 tonnes sold in the same period last year.

Private millers have also been opposing the imports, saying they are hurting the industry.

Trans Mara Sugar Company CEO Fredrick North Coombs said despite the government last year arresting dozens of traders in relation to contraband sugar, the market is still flooded with cheap imports.

Mr North said the situation had hurt cane farmers all over the country and warned that woes facing the industry would continue if the government does not control the imports.

Governors from the sugar belt also opposed plans to import sugar from Uganda.