Kenya expects to significantly increase its sugar imports in the next three weeks as the regulator moves in to tame the current high prices.
The country usually imports about 8,000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes of sugar monthly but has increased the volumes to 100,000 tonnes to be brought in within the next two and a half months.
The Sugar Directorate says the imports will come from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) states, with the initial consignment coming in from Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The sugar will land in the country at Sh5,300 per 50kg bag compared with Sh5,500 (average) for the same quantity of local sugar produce.
“We have already placed our orders for imports from the Comesa bloc and we have issued the permits to traders,” says Sugar Directorate's head Solomon Odera.
Kenya does not produce enough sugar and it relies on imports to meet the growing demand.
The country is allowed to import 300,000 every year from regional states.
Kenya is projecting a shortage of 1.9 million tonnes of cane by the end of this financial year, which will take a toll on the supply of the sweetener in the market.
The price of a two-kilogramme sugar packet is currently trading at Sh380 up from Sh290 in January this year as a result of the shortage in the market.
The directorate has blamed the shortage on drought that affected sugar growing zones following a prolonged dry spell in the country.
Sugar production dropped by 16 per cent in the period under review compared with the same time last year as cane shortage took a toll on the quantities produced.
Production declined from 126,362 tonnes registered last year to 104,907 tonnes in February this year.
A recently released report indicates that Siaya Town recorded the highest wholesale sugar price averaging Sh5,580 per 50kg bag, while the lowest price was recorded at Namanga town, averaging Sh4,950.