The Sugar industry in Kenya started with private investments at Miwani in 1922, followed by Ramisi Sugar Company in 1927. After independence, six additional companies were established namely; Muhoroni (1966), Chemelil (1968), Mumias (1973), Nzoia (1978), South Nyanza (1979), West Kenya (1981), Soin (2006), Butali sugar and Allied, Transmara Sugar, Sukari Industries, Kwale International Sugar Company and Olepito Sugar company.
In addition, there are licensed and operational jaggery millers: Lubao, Shajanand, Farm Industries and Homa Lime Jaggeries who produce jaggery made from sugarcane. There are many informal and mostly mobile jaggeries. Collectively, Jaggeries provide employment to over 5,000 people and alternative market for sugarcane.
The establishment of the parastatals was driven by a national desire to:
- Accelerate social-economic development;
- Address regional economic imbalances;
- Increase Kenyan citizen’s participation in the economy;
- Promote indigenous entrepreneurship; and
- Promote foreign investments through joint ventures.
In Kenya there are large sugarcane plantations and smallholder farms owned by outgrower farmers. AFA Sugar Directorate and the Sugar Research Institute work constantly to help the industry.
In Kenya, sugarcane is grown in Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Narok, Kericho, Uasin Gishu and Kwale Counties. Small scale sugarcane farmers supply over 85% of the cane milled by sugar companies. The industry is rural-based benefiting the rural poor and significantly contributing to the achievement of one of the Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction.
Despite all the investments done in the Sugar Industry, self-sufficiency has remained elusive over the years as consumption continues to outstrip supply. This makes Kenya to remain a net importer of sugar with imports rising every year. The country’s annual national sugar deficit on average is 200,000 Tonnes of sugar. There however exists the potential for Kenya to become and retain self-sufficiency in sugar production and also produce a surplus for export.