Sugar shipped from Uganda grew 30 times in February compared with the same period last year in what the sector regulator attributed to a sharp decline of the cheap variety of the commodity locally.
The volumes imported from Uganda hit 12,000 tonnes in two months to February from a low of 400 tonnes in corresponding period last year.
The head of the Sugar Directorate Solomon Odera said imports from Uganda were last year affected by an influx of a cheap sugar from Brazil. The Ugandan commodity could not compete favourably in the market because of it is expensive.
“The overflow from 2017 of cheap sugar into 2018 made traders reluctant to seek import permits to ship in the commodity as they could make losses on account of excessive cheap Brazilian commodity,” said Mr Odera.
By the end of 2017, Mr Odera said Kenya had in excess of 300,000 tonnes of sugar, which was way above the required volumes. This is an equivalent of the annual quantities that Kenya is allowed to import from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
However, with the sharp decline of imported volumes and reduced local production, traders are now shipping in more of the Ugandan sugar into the country.
In February Comesa countries provided 16,740 tonnes of sugar while the EAC shipped 6,128 tonnes (all being from Uganda), whereas the rest of the world countries’ imports were 4,507 tonnes.
Increased volumes from Uganda can also be attributed to Tanzania’s move in banning the imports of the commodity from Uganda, leaving Kenya to enjoy all the surplus from the neighbouring state.
“Uganda has had surplus stocks this year and that is why they had to export huge quantities to the country compared with last year,” said the regulator.
Kenya opened the window for duty-free sugar last year to allow the importation of the commodity outside the regional market to address the shortage occasioned by scarcity in 2017.