Rwanda is set 4,072 tons of sugar to Kenya, joining the league of sugar exporters to Kenya in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.
This comes at a time Kenya targets to import at least 210,163 tonnes of sugar from Comesa region, with shipments from Eswatini, Zambia, and Mauritius accounting for 69.5 percent of the imports.
Eswatini is set to dwarf other countries in terms of exportations, with traders in Kenya allowed to import 68,959 tonnes from Eswatini, followed by Zambia at 41,152 tonnes and Mauritius 36,036 tonnes.
Uganda will be allowed to export 18,923 tonnes of to Kenya, Rwanda 4,072 tonnes, and Burundi 0.27 tonnes.
The 210,163 tonnes of duty-free sugar is a reduction from the previous years, where traders were allowed to import 350,000 tonnes.
“All registered dealers and holders of valid import permits for brown/mill white sugar are therefore required to comply with the provisions for the Crops (sugar) Imports, Exports and By-products Regulations 2020 as applicable,” said Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) director-general Kello Harsama.
The entry of Rwanda brings into question the sugar industry in the country which has several factories, while Rwanda has only one factory, Kabuye Sugar Factory.
As of 2016, Rwanda produces the least quantity of granular brown sugar among four of the six countries of the East African Community, namely Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, accounting for about 12,000 metric tonnes.
This is against a consumption of 90,000 metric tonnes annually as of 2016, which could have risen to 160,000 metric tonnes as of 2020.
Importation is linked to rogue sugar factories in Kenya linked to the infamous Rai family, which has crippled sugarcane farming in the country especially in the Nyanza and Western regions.
In the last few weeks, sugarcane farmers near Kibos sugar factory have been stranded after the factory broke down.
Kenya prides itself of several sugar factories including Nzoia, Muhoroni, Chemelil, Miwani, Mumias and Sony factory.
Recently, Mumias was placed under administration over bulging debt, that has crippled its operations to the detriment of surrounding farmers.
With sugar millers not operating optimally, cartels have taken over to import sugar which sometimes is contaminated.
For instance, in 2018, the government admitted that 10,000 bags of contaminated sugar was sneaked from Mombasa Port and released into the market.