East African sugar stakeholders on Saturday joined hands by forming the East African Sugar Industry Association (EASIA) in an effort to collectively address serious challenges thwarting development of the sector in the trading bloc.
The regional body provides platform for stakeholders to exchange ideas and experiences, advice partner states governments on factors affecting the sugarcane based sector in the entire east African region and provide advocacy on policy issues in regard to the development of East African sugar industry.
Speaking at the official launch of the association, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for East African Cooperation Abdalla Juma Saadala called upon the industry experts in the region to make full use of the organization.
“As players in east Africa, we need to take an active role in policy preparations by providing the east African governments correct and timely inputs that would facilitate relevant policy interventions to the sugar industry for the benefits of east African people,” the minister said.
He said that the east African sugar industry is going through a very difficult period with serious challenges ranging from excessive sugar imports in our domestic markets, relatively slow growth of domestic production of sugarcane growers and millers to high costs of production.
Saadala said that East African sugar industry hasn’t achieved the mandate given to it that east Africa must be self sufficient in sugar.
“One of the important concern of our governments is why we do not continue to produce less than what consumed domestically?” he queried, asking the sugar industry professionals to honestly deliberate on what should be done to promote the industry’s cause, to optimally utilize abundance resources – fertile land and plenty of water reservoirs to improve sugarcane and sugar production sustainably.
“I advise you to take this as a challenge to help improve sugarcane productivity through better agronomic productivity and enhance mills efficiencies in endeavor to ensure sustainable availability of sugar at reasonable process to consume in our region,” he said.
He also suggested the need for having a coordinated imports and information would enable the industry and the east African governments to be more accurate in the assessment of the sugar industry and taking appropriate policy measures that would protect the industry from external threats, such as dumped sugar imports in the regional markets. Enditem