By Murimi Gitari, May 19 2021
Kenya Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday called for the revival of the sugar industry during the launch of its Sugar Sub-Sector Strategic Plan, which seeks to guide the industry’s growth, resilience and sustainability.
Speaking during the launch, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Lawrence Karanja, noted that Government remains committed to reviving the sugar industry.
“We remain cognizant of the headwinds to the Sugar Industry’s headwinds to growth. As such, we reaffirm our commitment to developing solutions, to enhance the Kenyan Sugar Industry’s competitiveness. Remedying these solutions requires a multi-sectoral approach. This is why we continue to partner with different Ministries and Agencies, to regulate the sub-sector, control sugar imports as well as develop and promote sugarcane value chains. For instance, we are currently implementing the findings of the Sugar Taskforce report, as part of combined efforts to revive the sugar sector,” explained Dr Karanja.
KAM Chair, Mucai Kunyiha highlighted that the sugar industry continues to face challenges that hinder its revival, and eventual growth.
“Limited research and development, excess sugar importation, weak regulatory mechanisms and sugar dumping hinder the industry’s effectiveness as an economic and social catalyst. Consequently, this has led to inadequate total production, and eventually difficulties in meeting market demand. It is therefore critical that we turn around the sugar industry, to make it competitive – locally, regionally and internationally,” said Mr Kunyiha.
KAM Sugar Sub-Sector Chair, Ms Joyce Opondo, shared the KAM Sugar Sub-Sector’s vision.
“The KAM Sugar Sub-Sector Strategic Plan is aligned to the Sugar Task Force Report, Government development blueprints, Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the Ministry of Agriculture’s policy and operational frameworks. The plan aims to guide the sugar industry to reposition itself competitively, foster the adoption of policies, and innovations that will result in an efficient and effective sugar industry and improve the connection between national policy priorities and sector-level actions. We are optimistic that the plan will help unlock the potential of the sugar industry and the players along the value chain,” noted Ms Opondo.
The Agriculture and Food Authority’s (AFA) Sugar Directorate, Director, Rosemary Owino who was part of the launch said the directorate is implementing the Sugar Taskforce Report, as part of efforts to revive the sector. Additionally, she noted that the government, for the first time had successfully capped sugar imports.
“Kenya’s Sugar Industry is on a recovery path and we are seeing increased production, which we hope shall cater for supply gaps in the country.” She added.
The strategic plan was developed following consultations with government and the sugar industry players. It covers three strategic themes – Sugar Sub-Sector Policy and Advocacy; Research and Innovation; and Value Chain and Sub-Sector Development. The three strategic themes have been cascaded into smart objectives, with corresponding strategies to enable the KAM Sugar Sub-Sector to realize its goals.
Kenya is currently a net importer of sugar mainly from COMESA countries. The country imports from Uganda on duty free basis to cover times of acute shortage. This occasionally leads to oversupply and glut in the market, dampening local sugar prices hence adversely impacting not only on price and demand, but also on the industry at large.
Another challenge facing the sector is weakness in regulatory mechanism as there is no proper policy or Law guiding the industry. Existing regulations pose serious difficulties inimplementation and put insurmountable barriers to expansion.
A sizable amount of uncustomed sugar is smuggled into thecountry through the porous borders. This causes distortions in the market, compromises in sugar quality and leads to loss of government revenue, and also impacts the sugar sub-sector negatively.
The launch of the Sugar Sub-Sector Strategic Plan by the Kenya Association of manufacturers will help overcome these challenges and revive the sugar sector in the country.