New details have emerged about how President William Ruto’s government tried averting the sugar crisis since December 2022 by allowing for the importation of duty-free sugar.
Reports indicated that millers and Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) were allowed, through a presidential executive order, to import sugar and other select food commodities.
It emerged that the decision to allow such importation saved Kenyans, albeit shortly, from acute sugar shortage for the months of April to May 2023.
According to Agriculture and Food Authority, local sugar production in the country dropped drastically by 36 per cent at the time.
For the month of April, the country’s import of sugar also dropped by 85 per cent according to the Authority.
Local farmers in Kenya had produced 49,761 metric tonnes in March but that number dropped to 31,970 metric tonnes.
The consignment of imported sugar fell from 93,880 metric tonnes in March to 14,034 tonnes in April.
The drop in local production and imported sugar also saw factories deplete their stocks from 10,844 metric tonnes to 8,023 metric tonnes between the months of March and April.
Millers are now relying on imported stock to satisfy a sugar-hungry nation.
If the government had not allowed for the importation, there would be an acute shortage and the available sugar would be sold at exorbitant prices.
“The Cabinet through the Executive Office of the President approved the positioning of KNTC as an anchor agency of the State initiatives to create price stabilisation for essential household food items, in the face of prolonged drought affecting Kenyans,” a statement from the government read then.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi on Tuesday, April 18, stated that companies that imported duty-free goods should have that reflected on their pricing model.
Despite the CS’s directive, sugar increased from Ksh310 at the start of May 2023 to Ksh490 by mid-May 2023.