Sugar industry players are criticising the government for shortsighted policy making amid reports that international protocols have been signed for massive imports of sugar.

The industry is only just beginning to recover after a sugar crisis last year that pushed the price of sugar to, at most, SH120 a kilo. The current cost of a kilo, Sh70, is still prohibitive to the majority of Kenyans, and many of the sugar companies are now closed or operating under capacity.  

News of imported sugar quotas is seen by many as a death knell for the domestic industry, where each tonne of sugar costs Sh53,500 to produce, compared to the Sh19,000 it costs to procure a tonne from another country. Critics say imports will only serve to further depress the domestic market and stifle local production.

The sugar manufacturers that are still operating may not be able to sustain further losses. Last week, Muhoroni Sugar Factory workers went on strike to demand salary arrears since last week October.

Government policy is being largely blamed for the crippling problems of the industry, in a country that is a major grower of cane and where sugar is a source of livelihood to millions.