KENYA is seeking an extension of the period of protection granted to Kenya against cheap sugar imports from the Comesa region.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said yesterday the extension would give the Kenyan sugar industry time to put its house in order before the inflow of imported sugar from the 19 member-state economic bloc.
Kenya was first given the protection from cheaper sugar imports from the Comesa region in 2004. The safeguards, extended in 2008 and 2012, expire on February 28 this year.
Uhuru, who was speaking during a meeting with the Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya at State House, said a little more time will help address the issues that have bogged down the industry for long.
"Cheap sugar imports at this time when our sugar industry is facing a myriad of challenges does not augur well for our cane farmers," President Kenyatta noted.
The Comesa boss assured the President that the safeguards on Kenya's sugar will feature in the agenda of the summit and expressed optimism that Kenya's request for an extension would be granted. The summit will be held in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, later this month.
With the planned privatisation of state-owned sugar factories going at a snail speed, it is feared that the Kenyan sugar industry will collapse if the import safeguards are removed. Kenyan factories are less efficient than their neighbors which mean imported sugar is much more cheaper than the one produced locally.