Cane delivery dropped 12 percent in the eight months to August compared to a similar period in 2018, forcing the regulator to scale up imports to bridge local sugar deficit.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data indicates that cane delivered to factories in the review period stood at 299,000 tonnes against 344,000 tonnes last year. Cane production had rebounded last year to hit a high of 344,000 after registering a low of 277,000 tonnes the previous year.
“There was a lot of immature cane in the field and factories did not take a lot of sugarcane as they should when there is a mature crop in the farms,” said Solomon Odera, head of Sugar Directorate.
He said some factories were closed for maintenance during the period. In July, Nzoia and Olepito sugar factories did not operate while Sony and Muhoroni crushed for only 10 and four days respectively.
Production of sugar has been dwindling with the directorate blaming this on a scarcity of raw material and production inefficiencies by State-owned millers.
The shortage saw sugar imports rise by 85 percent compared with the same period last year.
According to the directorate, imports of the sweetener between January and August stood at 285,883 tonnes compared with 154,225 last year.
Sugar production declined by seven percent in August compared with last year following a poor performance in most of the factories coupled with a serious shortage of the raw material.