Kenya-Uganda Sugar deal won't hurt farmers, says Nzoia Company boss
13 August 2015, 10:35
Bungoma - Nzoia Sugar Company Company board chairman, Joash Wamang'oli has downplayed fears that importing sugar from Uganda into Kenya will kill the local industry and asked leaders not to politicize the matter.
Wamang'oli said the recently signed sugar deal between Kenya and Uganda should be a non-issue because Ugandan sugar has always been in local shops and supermarket shelves.
Speaking to News24 Wednesday, Wamang'oli asked opposition leaders to stop politicizing the issue, noting that it will in no way kill the potential of local sugar industry which has been trying to stay afloat in the recent past.
"Ugandan sugar has been sold in the Kenyan market under the East Africa Community (EAC) Common market agreements," said Wamang'oli.
On Tuesday, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy leader Raila Odinga questioned the rationale behind the pact between President Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart that will allow sugar from the nearby country to be sold in the local market.
The opposition Chief while criticizing the deal, termed it as 'reckless, sour and tasteless' and expressed fears that it would cripple the struggling local sugar industry.
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But Wamang'oli who previously served as the chairman of the Nzoia Farmers Out-growers Company (NOCO), differed with Raila saying he is not being honest and only wants to gain political mileage from the matter.
"The former Prime Minister served in the government and knows that Kenya has been importing sugar from Uganda. He should not be dishonest," said Wamang'oli, who is also the Vice Chair of the National Federation of Sugar Cane Farmers.
He noted that the national government is committed to reviving the sugar industry in Kenya, adding that the recent KES 1 Billion bailout extended to Mumias Sugar Company was a show of commitment.
Wamang'oli explained that what Uganda Sugar milling company produces is not much, and noted that what should bother the local opposition leaders is the illegal sugar imports from other countries that have flooded the market.
"Uganda's annual sugar consumption stands at 320 000 tonnes, against over 438 000 tonnes produced by its milling company's in 2014. Kenya on the other hand has an annual net deficit of between 250 000 tonnes and 300 000 tonnes of sugar. Even if we imported their entire surplus Sugar, we shall still have a deficit," he explained.
Wamang'oli however asked the government agencies to be vigilant and guard against scrupulous traders who may try to take advantage of the deal by sneaking in sugar from other countries for their own gains.
"The fears of cane farmers are that sugar barons may be eying this opportunity to illegally import sugar and repackage it as Ugandan. We want the government through its agencies like KRA to be vigilant," he said.
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