Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has highlighted the persistent escalation in sugar prices, despite import initiatives, attributing this to the imposition of a Ksh5 excise duty on imports.

During his appearance before a parliamentary committee on Monday, Mr Linturi identified the introduced excise duty as a key factor maintaining the high cost, despite a waiver of import duties to facilitate the shipment of sugar beyond regional boundaries with the aim of reducing consumer expenditures.

“The introduction of the Ksh5 excise duty on imports is one of the reasons why the cost has remained high despite imports,” Mr Linturi informed the House Committee.

Despite government efforts to eliminate import duties and alleviate costs for consumers, sugar prices persist at elevated levels.

Currently, a two-kilogram packet of sugar is retailing at Ksh450, a significant increase from Ksh230 in the corresponding period last year.

The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary outlined additional factors contributing to the soaring sugar prices, including the devaluation of the shilling against the dollar, a global shortage of the commodity, and an export ban imposed by India, historically a major source of cost-effective imports for Kenya.

India, grappling with a widening global deficit, imposed an export ban to safeguard its local market, leaving Kenya with a heightened reliance on sugar imports from Brazil.

The imposition of export restrictions by India has led to sustained elevated prices in the local sugar market, at a time when millers in the country have stopped milling the commodity due to a shortage of sugarcane.

According to the Sugar Directorate, Kenya imported a substantial 32,000 tonnes of sugar from Brazil in September, constituting a significant 65 percent of the total sugar imports during the same period.

This surge in shipment resulted in Kenya’s total sugar imports for September reaching 66,755 tonnes, reflecting a notable 17 percent increase compared to the previous month’s import of 57,250 tonnes.