President William Ruto’s government plan to import 180,000 tonnes of sugar hit a snag on Thursday, May 25, after millers questioned the directive.
While on a retreat in Kisumu, the millers converging under the umbrella of Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers castigated the move noting that they had been sidelined.
They wondered why Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi did not prioritise them while issuing the directive on Wednesday, May 24.
“What we know from today's government is that once a directive to import sugar is made, you will see it on the shelves being sold.
“There is a need to ensure that the sugar importation is done by the millers and not any other person,” the millers protested the directive by CS Linturi while reading a sinister move behind the directive.
The Union further stated that they were the only ones who understand the deficit in the market, so they were better poised to spearhead the importation process.
“We will also be able to regulate and make sure that the sugar being imported does not affect the locally available stock,” the millers added.
The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers further opposed the government’s directive to import the sugar outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) bloc.
They cast aspersions that importing out of COMESA put the country at risk of flooding the market with contaminated sugar.
“That sugar must be checked in terms of quality. The other day we had cases of mercury. We must be very careful on where the sugar is coming from and how safe it is for local consumption,” they warned.
Linturi had defended the move to import outside COMESA, noting that it was informed by the search for adequate availability.
The Agriculture CS had further castigated the millers claiming that they had failed on their mandate to meet the country’s sugar demand.
“It is unfortunate because we should be crushing sugar from within the country that should be able to sustain our market,” he stated.
Sugar produced locally dropped from 49,372 metric tonnes in March to 31,970 in April 2023.
This led the sugar prices to rise drastically in May 2023, with a one-kilogram packet retailing at Ksh240, a 54.5 per cent increase.