Tensions between Uganda and Kenya are rising again, this time with more than 100 Ugandan trucks carrying about 6,000 tonnes of sugarcane stuck at the Busia border following a new ban on importation of raw sugarcane and brown sugar by Kenya.
The Trucks carrying Ugandan sugarcane destined for Kenya have been stuck at the Busia border With Most of the sugarcane being transported coming from the Busoga Sub-region districts of Kaliro, Kamuli, Mayuge, Iganga, and Busembatia. Many of the traders were delivering the Sugar cane to companies such as Busia Sugar allied factory and Olepito Sugar Factory in Kenya’s Busia County.
Kenya banned the importation of cane from Uganda last year but some shrewd businessmen have allegedly been sneaking it into Kenya and selling it to some factories until Last week when Mr Peter Munya, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture in Kenya, announced the total ban that took effect immediately.
According to Mr. Peter Munya, the flooding of cheap imported sugar from other countries into the Kenyan market has played a major role in collapsing local factories in Kenya.
“I have directed the Sugar Directorate of Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to ensure that the new sugar importation guidelines give no provision for the extension for existing brown sugar import permits,” he said.
“The imports have made local sugar mills uncompetitive and many of them are struggling to survive. There is an influx of illegal imports, especially through Busia, (Uganda) boarder as the unscrupulous businessmen took advantage of curfew hours. The Kenyan government has suspended all brown sugar imports into the country with immediate effect and also pre-shipment approvals and extension of all sugar import permits until further notice,” he added.
The ban has, therefore, left Ugandan sugarcane traders, farmers and transporters at a loss as many had invested deeply in the trade.
Last year, Uganda started exporting raw sugarcane to Kenya following a bilateral trade agreement between President Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta. The agreement, that has now been thrown out the window, came as a relief to hundreds of sugarcane farmers in Busoga who were stranded with the raw material since several factories were unable to offer right prices and absorb all the sugarcane.