KENYA – In a bid to manage the sugar supply crisis that has sent prices soaring to unprecedented levels, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has unveiled stringent regulations governing the importation of sugar under the country’s recent duty-free import initiative.

These rules, announced on August 9, 2023, are designed to address the domestic sugar production deficit and prevent abuse by unscrupulous traders.

With sugar prices skyrocketing to a historic high, reaching between Sh225 and Sh250 per kilogram, the Cabinet approved an extension of duty-free sugar imports last month. This move was intended to alleviate the scarcity of sugar in the country.

As anticipation grows for the arrival of substantial sugar consignments, KEBS has taken proactive steps to ensure that these imports meet quality standards and prevent any potential exploitation.

Under these new regulations, all imported sugar accompanied by Certificates of Conformity (CoCs) will undergo mandatory re-inspection and testing at the port of entry, with no additional cost to the importer.

“The sampling will take place in the presence of the importer or an appointed agent and will be subjected to tests to verify compliance with the relevant requirements of the standards,” KEBS stated.

“For sugar shipments originating from countries where Kebs has designated inspection companies but are not accompanied by CoCs, they will be subject to inspection upon arrival, incurring a fee equivalent to five percent of the approved customs value.”

The government parastatal added that Imported sugar from countries where no inspection agents are contracted by Kebs will continue to undergo destination inspection.

It noted that importers will be required to pay an inspection fee equivalent to 0.6 percent of the approved customs value, along with any testing fees that may apply.

Recently, the Kenyan sugar industry has faced significant challenges, including a sugarcane shortage that prompted the Agriculture and Food Authority to suspend sugar milling operations in July.

Neglect of the sugar industry by key stakeholders has exacerbated the crisis, particularly in the Western region, which is a major sugarcane-producing area with over 300,000 farmers supplying sugarcane to various mills.

The majority of the sugarcane is provided by out-growers, with the remaining supplied by nucleus estates owned by milling companies.

Despite the country having 16 sugar mills with a total daily processing capacity of 51,450 tonnes of cane, capacity utilization remains low, at approximately 56 percent, according to projections by the Agriculture Ministry.

These stringent regulations introduced by KEBS will ensure that imported sugar meets the necessary quality standards, addressing the immediate sugar supply crisis and providing much-needed relief to consumers grappling with skyrocketing sugar prices.

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