EDITORIAL: Sugar price hike suspicious

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

That sugar prices have shot up by more than 15 percent two weeks after a ban on the importation of the commodity is a suspicious development requiring thorough investigations.

Market conditions do not support such a sharp price jump that has seen some brands of sugar retail at Sh230 for a two-kilo packet, up from Sh200.

The rise in sugar prices appears to be driven by hoarding, with imports of the commodity having surged and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya having said local producers were sitting on surplus stocks.

Mr Munya two weeks ago banned sugar imports and revoked all the import permits that were current. The move has seen retailers report disruption in the supply of the commodity, raising suspicion that traders have started hoarding to gain from artificial shortages. The Sugar Directorate is already looking into the unexpected interruption in the market, focusing on the value chain.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) should also join the effort to ensure that consumers are not exploited. The CAK has been particularly active, overseeing manufacturers and retailers after the risk of hoarding was highlighted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.