Shipments from Eswatini, Zambia, and Mauritius will dominate Kenya’s duty-free sugar imports from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) this year to bridge a local deficit in production, a report shows.

Supplies from the three countries will account for 69.5 percent of the overall 210,163 tonnes of the commodity that Kenya targets to import from Comesa.

The largest consignment of duty-free sugar into Kenya will be sourced from Eswatini (68,959tonnes) followed by Zambia at 41,152 and Mauritius bringing in 36,036.

In East Africa, traders will be allowed to import 18,923 tonnes of the commodity from Uganda, Rwanda (4,072), and Burundi 0.27 tonnes.

The Ministry of Agriculture in the new quota rules for each country will see millers allowed to import only 210,163 tonnes of the commodity this year from the usual 350,000 tonnes that the country is normally allocated under the Comesa window.

“All registered dealers and holders of valid import permits for brown/mill white sugar are therefore required to comply with the provisions for the Crops (sugar) Imports, Exports and By-products Regulations 2020 as applicable,” said AFA director-general Kello Harsama.

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) normally considers sugar import permits applications based on a monthly projected deficit, which depends on local sugar production as well as the country’s consumption.

Treasury this year capped the amount of sugar that can be imported duty-free to Kenya from the Comesa states at 210,000 tonnes to avoid flooding of the market with cheap sweetener.

The Treasury said in March that imports that will exceed 210,163 will attract 100 percent duty as the government seeks to control the falling prices of sugar millers.

The Parliament through amendments to Sugar Bill, 2019, wants factories and importers to be compelled to obtain pre-import approval from the State in new measures aimed at curbing flooding of the local market with cheap sugar.

“A person who imports sugar into Kenya shall, before importation, provide a sample of the sugar to be imported and pre-import verification certificate from the country of origin,” Mr Silas Tiren, who chairs the committee said.

Those found in breach of the law will face a Sh10 million fine or five years in jail.