In Summary
  • With farmers producing an average 600,000 tonnes against a demand of 900,000, the country has resorted to imports to sate the burgeoning demand.
  • Farmers, on the other hand, have accused millers of blatantly flouting their contractual agreements by paying them late with some payments running into months without being honoured.
  • There is also need to introduce new superior cane varieties that have high sucrose content, so that the country moves from pricing model based on weight of cane delivered.

That exorbitant sugar prices have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many consumers is an open secret.

And for thousands of cane farmers across the country, the experience is even more harrowing, characterised by late payments, threats of cheap sugar imports and even lack of agricultural inputs.

Fixing these basics could actually be a major leap in addressing our perennial shortage once and for all.

With farmers producing an average 600,000 tonnes against a demand of 900,000, the country has resorted to imports to sate the burgeoning demand.

However, even with the imports, projections are that the deficit keeps growing, with demand expected to now hit the one million tonne mark as production dips to about 400,000 tonnes in what is attributed to prolonged drought and a section of millers operating below capacity.

Production costs, on the other hand, are the most prohibitive, with Sh128,750 ($1,250) required to produce one tonne of sugar, the highest in the region and more than double the global average of $500.

The result is that machines that once roared crushing cane have grinded to a halt, bringing with them misery among millers and farmers as government now increasingly looks to the Comesa controlled cheap sugar imports to plug the biting shortage as demand grows by the day.

The blame game has only exacerbated the shortage. Millers have constantly blamed the government for paying lip service to the local industry by giving subsidies, which they claim do little to help them, while at the same time opening its borders to cheap imports.

Farmers, on the other hand, have accused millers of blatantly flouting their contractual agreements by paying them late with some payments running into months without being honoured.

RADICAL POLICIES

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