Players in the sugar industry want the controversial sugar imports from Uganda stopped until the production capacity is known.
The players said sugar importation should be stopped until controversies surrounding the talks allowing Ugandan surplus sugar into the Kenyan market are cleared.
They spoke to the Star yesterday ahead of today’s meeting with Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed.
Nzoia Sugar Company chairman Joash Wamang’oli said: “Kenya is a signatory to the EAC common market protocol, but it will be suicidal for us to just allow flooding of sugar from other countries in the interest of regional free trade.”
“One of our demands is that a verification committee is formed to go to Uganda to find the sugar production level,” he said.
Wamang’oli said Uganda should only be allowed to export sugar in the country if it has surplus coming from its factories.
Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association secretary general Richard Ogendo said allowing unregulated, cheap sugar imports in the country will force local millers to shut down.
He called for less government involvement in sugar affairs.
“Allowing sugar whose origin is unclear in the country is saying yes to barons who will flood the market with cheap sugar,” Ogendo said.
He said the imports will make locally produced sugar uncompetitive.
“This will automatically send our millers to their graves,” Ogendo said.
He said if at all there is a deficit and the country has to import sugar, then it should never be the business of the government and other bureaucrats to approve it.
Ogendo said it should be left to farmers and millers to decide the rules and how the importation should be done.
He said sugar imports are not subjected to levies like the sugar development levies that millers pay, therefore giving the imports undue advantage over the local products.
“Our industries aren’t afraid to compete. They can in fact produce surplus, but let be there transparency and levelled playing fields,” Ogendo said.
He said if the government wants farmers in the sugar belt region to uproot cane and opt for other economic activities it should be open and say that.
Ogendo dismissed what he termed underhand deals like that of allowing in cheap sugar that will elbow our products out of the supermarket shelves.