CHEAP sugar imports from Tanzania and Uganda will affect more than 50,000 sugar cane farmers in South Nyanza, leaders have said.
The imports which are smuggled through porous borders and on Lake Victoria have had a negative impact on Sony Sugar, Trans Mara and Sukari in Migori, Narok and Homa Bay counties.
"The smuggling has been an on and off affair along the borders but it picked up last year," Pamela Jane, Sony Sugar acting MD said. Jane said when the price of 50 kilo bag of sugar reaches Sh4,300, like in the current market the smugglers are active.
"The sugar which is brought in bulk from Brazil and Malawi is often not fully refined making it dangerous for human consumption. They are packed in local millers branded bags," Jane said.
She said the illegal trade is fueled by corruption at the Kenya Revenue Authority and by police at the borders. "We have cases where smugglers sail off into the lake especially around Muhuru Bay and package the sugar on water at night," she said.
Two weeks ago Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei had placed a ban on sugar import licences. Smugglers acting on a tip off have eluded arrest by changing their locations frequently to avoid being arrested by police officers and millers' security officers.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado while addressing the press in Migori Town said the corruption of border officers will affect sugarcane farmers and millers who are experiencing huge loses.
"There is a lot of smuggled sugar getting in the country through Isebania border from Tanzania which is being encouraged by corrupt KRA and police officers," he said.
Obado cautioned traders in Migori to desist from the illegal business saying it is derailing the progress of Sony Sugar Company, which is the only factory in the County.