Kenya plans to import 290,000 metric tons of sugar to cushion consumers

By Rodgers Omondi

The Kenyan government has announced it shall import 290,000 metric tons of either white or brown sugar for local consumption to ease the country’s current sugar crisis.

It promised Kenyans that the commodity, which has been elusive in the local diet for a while now, shall be availed in the country before or by 30th December. In addition, the National Treasury also pronounced a lift on import duty on raw materials for the manufacture of animal feeds, for a period.

In an August 2023 gazette notice no. 10357 and its subsequent, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Economic Planning, Njuguna Ndung’u, made the statement to relieve the country of its burden on sugar scarcity and local millers and manufacturers from the tax mandate on select commodities.

Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Economic Planning, Njuguna Ndung’u

The country has been experiencing unprecedented increase in commodities for a period dating back to more than six months, with sugar crisis being the most prevalent. In the past two months alone, the price of sugar has increased with more than 50 percent.

In May 2023, the government announced the delineation of the local sugar belt into six regions, a deliberate attempt by the government to mitigate the crisis by minimizing the scramble for raw materials by local farmers, millers, and manufacturers.

Despite these efforts, a 2kg packet of sugar retails at Sh460, compared Sh280 in the same period the previous year.

Seemingly as a desperate resort by the government, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has announced exemption from import duties on select raw materials for the manufacture of animal feeds, including yellow maize, soya beans, assorted protein concentrates, feed additives, enzymes, and premix ingredients.

However, the notice specifies that such raw materials such meet specified criteria, one of which is that such material shall be used for the manufacture of animal feeds only and shall be imported before of by February 2024.

Taking note of the requirement of not more than ten parts per billion (10ppb) aflatoxin level, the government said it is keen to ensure that the yellow maize and other raw materials conform to the regulations by Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The gazette notice read in part that, “The imported Animal Feed Premix ingredients, Feed Additives, Unicellular proteins, Protein Concentrates, enzymes and Amino acids shall meet all quantity standards as specified and implemented by Kenya Bureau of Standards and veterinary requirements.”

The issue also set a cap for the volume of each raw material, with the yellow maize having the highest provision at 500,000 metric tons, soya bean meal and soya bean at 2500,000 and 150,000 metric tons respectively, while premix ingredients trail at 37,500 metric tons per import per miller or manufacturer.

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