West Kenya Sugar Company has refuted claims of procuring poisonous sugar laced with mercury for repackaging and sale to unsuspecting consumers.
Earlier this month, police raided a warehouse in Eastleigh, Nairobi and found more than 2,000 bags of sugar deemed unfit for human consumption with reports indicating that it was to be transported to Mumias and West Kenya Sugar factories for repackaging.
“We wish to confirm that West Kenya Sugar Company Limited was not the proprietor of the sugar reportedly seized by government authorities at Eastleigh in Nairobi on 5th June 2018,” said Tejveer S. Rai, the Managing Director of the company.
In a statement, the company which is the producer of Kabras premium white Sugar and Kabras brown sugar says that it will continue supporting over 60,000 small-scale sugar cane farmers are contracted by West Kenya Sugar Company Ltd to supply the factory with local sugar cane.
The Company said it will continuously invest in its contracted farmers and has invested over Sh400m in the last 18 months in cane development. The company pays farmers seven days after delivery.
This comes at a time when the area under cane reduced to 191.2 thousand hectares in 2017 compared to 220.8 thousand hectares in 2016. Reduction in cane area was attributable to conversion of some area under cane to other crops. Further, the quantity of cane delivered to factories reduced by 33.3 per cent from 7.2m tonnes in 2016 to 4.8m tonnes in 2017.
This was on account of prolonged dry weather conditions which were un-favorable for the growth of cane leading to harvesting of immature cane. As a result, the average sugarcane yield reduced to 55.3 tonnes per hectare in 2017 compared to 62.2 tonnes per hectare in 2016, representing a decrease of 10.9 per cent.
The extended drought experienced in Kenya in 2016-2017, which was declared a national disaster caused a rise in retail sugar prices from an average of Sh100 per kilo to Sh200.
As a result, the Kenyan government granted a four-month duty exemption for sugar imports up to 31st August 2017.
“In view of the exceptionally reduced supply of cane available from our preferred local farmers caused by that drought, West Kenya Sugar Company Limited along with several other companies, consequently applied for and were granted a license to import bulk brown sugar by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA),” said Rai.
The company said the imported sugar was ferried to its factory in Kakamega for further processing to conform to Kenya Bureau of Standards quality.
The total domestic sugar production declined by 41.2 per cent from 639.7 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 376.1 thousand tonnes in 2017 according to the 2018 economic survey report.
A total of 989.6 thousand tonnes of sugar was imported in 2017 to bridge the deficit occasioned by the low production during the year. Most of the sugar imports were meant for final consumption at 83.1 per cent of total sugar imports.