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Commodities

Sugar cane deliveries up 24 percent

A forklift loads cane into a tractor trailer
A forklift loads cane into a tractor trailer. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar cane delivery in the first five months of the year rose to its highest in four years as good rains in the farming zones helped grow volumes, official data shows.

Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that farmers delivered 2.72 million tonnes of cane to milling factories, a rise of 24 percent compared to a similar period last year.

The last time factories received a higher volume in the first five months was in 2016, when farmers delivered 3.16 million tonnes.

Sugar millers attributed the rise to increased rainfall that is a timely boost to factories that were during a similar period last year struggling with low cane deliveries, attribute to low rainfall.

“Rains have been good since last year and the cane was still growing. Maturity started in January, that is why we are enjoying the high amounts of deliveries,” said Francis Ooko, the receiver manager at Muhoroni Sugar.

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“Production from the irrigation farms has also increased and we are now having increased yield per hectare.”

Local millers produced 248,945 tonnes of sugar in the period under review at the back of the increase in deliveries up from 216, 281 tonnes in a similar period last year.

State-owned millers have, however, decried lack of funds to repair old equipment and purchase new ones in what has hampered production of sugar.

This is in addition to struggles in paying farmers for their cane with nearly all state owned millers crumbling under the weight of debts to the taxman and bank loans.

The rise in local production however failed to cut imports of the sweetener that rose 23 percent compared to a similar period last year.

Data by the Sugar Directorate shows that Kenya imported 184,677 tonnes of the sweetener between January and April compared to 150,302 tonnes in the corresponding period last year.

A two-kilo packet of branded sugar has now dropped from a high Sh230 in February to Sh210 for the same quantity as the market responds to an increase of cheap sugar in the market.

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