Ugandan sugar imports drop 96pc

Sugar imports from Uganda in June fell 96 percent on account of higher cost for the commodity as traders opted for cheaper alternatives from other regional countries.

Data from the Sugar Directorate indicates that the volumes from Uganda fell to 43 tonnes from 1,180 tonnes in May.

The cost of a tonne of sugar from Uganda was Sh64,574, compared to Sh56,463 and Sh57,129 from Malawi and Swaziland, respectively.

The price of Ugandan sugar increased slightly in the review period from Sh64,420 in May.

“Mill white/brown sugar from Malawi and Swaziland were the cheapest with an average price of Sh56,463 and Sh57,129 a tonne respectively. Sugar from East Africa Community, precisely from Uganda was landing at an average price of Sh64,574 per tonne,” said the directorate.

Kenya relies on imports to check on the rising cost of the commodity locally given that sugar produced in the country is normally expensive because of the high cost of production.

Total sugar exports in June were 4.31 tonnes against 17.31 tonnes in the same period last year. Overall, sugar export in January to June this year was 230.47 tonnes against 63.83 tonnes exported in the same period last year.

Uganda has had surplus volumes for sale and reached a deal with Tanzania to buy the excess. The country has also been selling to Kenya surplus sugarcane before it was stopped a fortnight ago.

Kenya is a deficit producer and therefore most of her production is targeted at local consumers. Moreover, Kenyan sugar is expensive and therefore not attractive for exports.

The Agriculture ministry banned imports two weeks ago and revoked all the trading permits that were current for shipment of the commodity.

The government said the influx of imports in the country had impacted negatively on sales of local sugar, leaving them with huge unsold stocks.

The ban has been felt with imports falling to five percent in June, the lowest level to have been recorded in the last six months.

Kenya is allowed to import 350,000 tonnes of sugar from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region to bridge the annual deficit.