Kenya will fall short of meeting its sugar import quota from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) due to an acute shortage of the commodity in the world market, a move that will further subject local consumers to high prices.
Kenya was allocated a quota of 180,000 tonnes of sugar by the Comesa secretariat, which it has to import this year from the member states.
However, Kenya has imported 48 percent of the total allocation with only two months to the end of the year.
Head of the Sugar Directorate Wilice Audi says Kenya might not get all the required sugar by end of December because of a tight supply of the commodity at the global market.
“There is a shortage of sugar in our source markets and this, coupled with prevailing high prices has seen traders lag in imports,” said Mr Audi.
He said the shortage may have an impact on consumers given that local factories are grappling with a shortage of cane. The price of the sweetener has so far hit a high of Sh312 for a two-kilo packet from Sh230 in June.
Sugar production in August dropped by 34 percent as most factories closed for maintenance amid a scarcity of mature cane.
Total sugar production in August was 46,459 tonnes from the 70,278 tonnes recorded a month earlier.
The directorate says several factories that had earlier closed have so far reopened with local production expected to be boosted with the starting of milling activities.
Initially, Kenya was allowed to import 350,000 tonnes of sugar from Comesa states but the Treasury lowered this to 210,000 last year.
However, Kenya imported more than the set limit last year having shipped in close to 300,000 tonnes.
The Treasury had indicated that it would charge duty to consignments that would exceed that ceiling. Normally sugar coming in from Comesa does not attract any duty.
Most Comesa countries are spending up to $600 in the production of a tonne of sugar compared with Kenya where factories incur as high as $900 to make the same amount.
Kenya has started the process of seeking another extension for sugar safeguards from Comesa ahead of the expiration of the window in February next year.
The extension, if allowed, will see Kenya issued with a record sixth time that the safeguards have been extended, against an allowable limit of five years that is allowed under the Comesa trade rule.