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Sugar imports up 28pc January on low production

sugarcane delivery
State millers have not been performing well. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar imports in January grew 28 per cent compared with the similar period last year as the country shipped in more of the sweetener to cover for a growing deficit.

According to the Sugar Directorate, imports in January stood at 46,796 tonnes compared with 36,674 in the corresponding period last year.

Local production declined by 15 per ent in the review period compared with last year following poor performance in most factories with about four of them remaining shut.

The directorate notes that the continued closure of Mumias and Kwale sugar factories have had a huge impact on sugar production.

“Currently, inadequate sugar cane for milling has negatively affected continued operation of sugar mills, therefore, the sustained decline in sugar production,” said the regulator.

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Total sugar sales in the review period stood at 49,335 tonnes compared with 51,389 tonnes sold in similar period last year, a decline of four percent.

Total sugar closing stock held by all the sugar factories at the end of January was 10,196 tonnes against 15,037 tonnes last year.

Most of the State-owned companies have been performing dismally due to lack of sufficient capital, ageing machinery, mismanagement and political interference.

In the review period, only two of the five government-owned firms were operational.

Private millers continue to register impressive performance, having installed new machines that are producing optimally and efficiently besides their private financial muscle.

Lack of sufficient raw material has been a major hindrance to local production.

Millers want the government to allow them to import sugar cane from Uganda after Kampala said it has surplus.

The drop in ex-factory sugar prices, which stands at Sh4,235 from Sh4,729 in December for a 50-kilogramme bag, is attributed to increased competition from cheaper imports, prompting the local sugar factories to lower price to sell.

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