Kenya plans to promote sugar cane cultivation in order to eliminate sugar imports in the next five years.
Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) Interim Director General, Alfred Busolo told journalists in Nairobi that the area under cultivation has been decreasing over the past decade as most sugar millers were not able to pay farmers promptly for sugar cane delivered.
“We have developed a strategy to revive the sugar sector by focusing on expanding area under sugar cane production,” Busolo said during a tea packers’ symposium.
The government projects that sugar production in 2017, will hit 600,000 metric tons against an annual consumption of 879,000 tons.
The deficit will be bridged through imports from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa bloc of which Kenya is a member.
According to AFA, the sugar deficit is likely to continue to expand if urgent interventions are not implemented.
The East African nation’s sugar miller are currently operating at between 30 to 50 percent capacity due to lack of sugarcane to crush to produce sugar.
“But if the sugar factories can achieve a 70 percent capacity, Kenya will be self sufficient in sugar production,” said the AFA official.
Busolo noted that most sugar millers in Kenya are government owned and therefore are very inefficient.
“We had initiated a process to privatize the public sugar millers but the courts have temporarily halted the move,” he added.