Millers have requested to import sugar under the extended duty-free window to generate cash and stay operational during the current closure period, however, the regulator has rejected their plea.

Millers had requested the government to allow them to import sugar as a measure of sustaining their business in the next three months when they are not milling and still need to meet their daily obligation.

AFA chairman Cornell Serem. (Photo:File).
AFA chairman Cornell Serem. (Photo:File).

However, Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) chairman Cornell Serem turned down their requests and said processors would not be allowed to ship in the commodity.

“You know what happened when you allow millers to import sugar, I don’t think we are going there,” said Mr Serem.

Traders are selling imported sugar at exorbitant rates with the price of a 50-kilo bag having gone up significantly to sell at Ksh10,000 at the moment from Sh5,000 in January, making it one of the lucrative businesses at the moment.

Millers had made the request to AFA and the Ministry of Agriculture to be allowed to import sugar during a stakeholders meeting.

“We have the knowledge of the industry and it will be proper to allow us to import sugar, especially at this time when we have shut down our mills so that we can get some money for operations,” said millers at the meeting.

The regulator has stopped the processing of sugar in order to curb the harvesting of immature cane and save farmers from losses.

The government has on two occasions denied millers the licenses to import the sweetener, arguing that most of them will opt for imports at the expense of milling cane, hence subjecting farmers to losses.

This is informed by a scenario in 2017 where millers abandoned the processing of sugarcane over imports after they were issued with import permits, a move that saw farmers stranded with mature cane.

The government has extended sugar imports for another four months to address the current shortage in the market that has seen a two-kilo packet of the commodity hit a high of Sh450 on the shelf.