The government has set aside Sh600 million to boost local production of sugar by 2027.

The government has set aside Sh600 million to boost local production of sugar by 2027.

It targets to grow fast-maturing cane with high sucrose content as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) safeguard expires a year earlier.

Jude Chesire, director and head of the Sugar Directorate at the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), said the government is keen to cushion Kenyans from high prices of sugar.

Chesire said the measures already rolled out have started making significant changes in the sugar industry.

“Last year our production was almost 800,000 against domestic demand of almost one million, so we had a small deficit of about 200,000,” he said.

He explained that, due to drought and other factors, this year’s production has gone down.

However, the government has strived to increase areas under cane by availing loans to farmers to increase hectares under cane

The aim is to increase our production and we project that if we put all these measures into action we should be self sustaining by 2027,” he said.

Speaking in Kisumu on Tuesday at the start of the two-day 2nd Sugar Industry Innovation Symposium, Chesire said once the COMESA safeguard period expires, Kenya will trade freely with other member states He noted that before the expiry, efforts being put in place will make the sugar sector competitive with other nations within COMESA.

Chesire further announced that payments to cane farmers based on sucrose content will take effect in 2026.

He said fast-maturing cane varieties have been rolled out to the farmers as more emphasis has been put on supporting the process.

“Already, the cabinet has approved Sh.600 million to facilitate sugar research institutions to come up with more new varsities,” he said.

Chesire noted that all the state mills have been fitted with sucrose content testing machines, but the challenge has been the adaptation of the new varieties by the farmers.

“We require county governments to sensitize farmers on the need to embrace new varieties with highest sucrose content since factories will use less quantities to produce more sugar,” he said.

Kilion Osur, Secretary, Kenya National Sugar Federation of Farmers, hailed the idea of rolling out payments on sucrose content.

“This has been our dream and its implementation has dragged over years, now we are happy that in the coming years it will be actualized,” he said.

Osur said using sucrose content will mean farmers will reap big from mollases, bargase, sugar, and other by-products.

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