Even as the sugar shortage looms amid rising retail prices to an all-time record high, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has said there is urgent need for leaders to engage and find lasting solutions to challenges bedeviling the sugar sector in the country.
Although the biggest concern currently is acute shortage of cane, Mudavadi said the sector has had its fair share of challenges that cripple it and this must be sorted out urgently.
Last year, for instance, he said the country produced only 802,846 metric tonnes against a national consumption of above 1 million metric tonnes.
“The greatest concern at the moment, however, is the acute cane shortage leading to closure of sugar mills. This has been inevitable given demotivation of farmers who are owed millions in unpaid delivered cane and have stopped growing cane.” Mudavadi claimed.
According to Mudavadi, these historical difficulties, together with the global shortage, have resulted in increased price from an average of Sh6,199 per 50kg bag last year to Sh7,244 today on an estimate.
“We must be honest that scarcity of the commodity is the cause of current high prices. We must also be honest that there are no easy solutions to longstanding issues aggravating the sugar industry.” He added.
The PCS made the remarks in Kisumu county when he presided over the opening of the regional Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show at Mamboleo Show Grounds.
He pointed out the need to protect the sugar industry wholesomely emphasising it being a critical sector to the country and most especially in Western Kenya in terms of income and employment.
“We have national problem that requires leaders to engage for a lasting solution to the hindrances the industry faces. There are no easy options. If one option cannot work, we must bite the bullet and take the other.” He added.
The Prime Cabinet Secretary further said the challenges in the sugar sector have contributed immensely to the prices of sugar skyrocketing to over Sh200 per kilogram in recent weeks.
Other issues he pointed out within the Sugar Sector that require immediate attention and solution based approaches he said range from existence of old mills to high indebtedness to managerial incompetence and cheap imports competition.