Sugar production dropped 45 per cent in the 11 months to November as factories grappled with shortage of raw material, with its sale falling by almost a similar margin.
Monthly report from sugar directorate indicates quantities dropped to 327,886 tonnes in the first 11 months from 593,666 tonnes in the corresponding period last year.
“This low production is attributed to the prevailing cane shortage in most cane growing zones,” says the report.
Sugar sales from factories also dropped by 44 per cent in what is attributed to low production by local factories.
Private millers led in production with West Kenya manufacturing 66,798 tonnes followed by Kibos at 45,888 tonnes and Butali at 41,472 tonnes.
Sony Sugar produced most among State-owned millers at 32,994 tonnes followed by Nzoia (26,677) and Muhoroni (17,888).
Decline in production saw consumers pay exorbitant price between January and May, with a kilo hitting a record high of Sh200.
The prices have, however, cooled off after the factory price of sugar dropped as high volumes of imports helped increase supply in the market.
According to the directorate a 50 kilo bag of sugar is currently selling at Sh4,000 at the factory down from Sh5,500 in August.
Sugar imports between January and November stood at 900,000 tonnes.
The Treasury scrapped duty on sugar imported from outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Market (Comesa) in May following a severe shortage.
Kenya produces about 600,000 tonnes of sugar a year, compared with annual consumption of 870,000 tonnes. The sugar deficit is usually covered by stringently controlled imports from Comesa trade bloc.
Sugar shortage was caused by drought in major cane growing zones that affected the crop in the field with the directorate estimating a shortage of 1.9 million tonnes at the end of last financial year.
By GERALD ANDAE
Source: Daily Nation, Kenya