Sugarcane agriculture was introduced in Kenya at Kibos in the early 1900s by Indian settlers who used it to manufacture jaggery. Before independence, the sugar industry in Kenya was dominated by private entrepreneurs. Later, the Ministry of Agriculture conducted field experiments on farmers’ fields in Kibos and Miwani and laboratory investigations at the National Agricultural Laboratories – Kabete, in Nairobi.
Large-scale production and processing started with the establishment of Miwani Sugar Mills in 1922, and expanded with the addition of Associated Sugar Mills at Ramisi in 1927. After independence, the Kenya Government started playing a central role in the ownership and management of the sugar industry. The Government established the following factories: Muhoroni (1966), Chemelil (1968), Mumias (1973), Nzoia (1978), South Nyanza (1979). Private investors have also built sugar factories in West Kenya (1981), Soin (2006), Kibos (2007), Butali (2011), Transmara (2011) and Sukari (2012). The latest entrant into the sugar industry is Kwale International Sugar Company Limited at Ramisi a private enterprise which started milling cane in 2015.
Organized research on sugarcane dates back to 1969 when the government set up the Sugar Research Station at Kibos, within the Nyando sugar belt, to enhance research on sugarcane production. In 1988 the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) was reorganized and the station was renamed National Sugar Research Centre, with a national mandate on sugar research. Through the efforts ofthe Kenya Sugar Authority (KSA) and KARI to enhance efficiency of sugar research, the Kenya Sugar Research Foundation (KESREF) was created and started its operations on 1st February 2001. KARI and KSA provided the initial resources to enable KESREF to take off.
Recently the Kenya government undertook reforms in the agricultural sector to improve efficiency in service delivery. This culminated in the formation of two new state corporations in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries namely: Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Authority (AFFA) and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). AFFA, through the Sugar Directorate, is responsible for regulating, developing, and promoting the sugar industry while Research in sugarcane cultivation and sugar production is the responsibility of KALRO through the Sugar Research Institute (SRI).
The Headquarters of SRI is at Kibos along Kisumu-Miwani road in Kisumu County. SRI has Centres in Kibos (Kisumu County) and Mtwapa (Kilifi County), Opapo (Migori County) and Mumias (Kakamega County). It also has a testing site at Kikoneni (Kwale county).
SRI Headquarters is located 13 km from Kisumu town along the Kisumu-Miwani road. (Latitude: 0.037099 | Longitude: 34.821516 | Altitude: 1200m).
Mtwapa Centre is within Mtwapa Township, 20 km North of Mombasa on the Mombasa-Malindi road, in the same location with the KALRO Industrial Crops Research Institute (Latitude: 3.934537 | Longitude: 39.736532 | Altitude: 30m).
Mumias Centre is within Mumias Township next to the Mumias Law Courts. (Latitude: 0.338828 |Longitude: 34.489993).
Opapo Centre is located 8 km from Rongo Township along the Rongo-Homa Bay road. (Latitude: -0.695391 | Longitude: 34.545815).
The Institute has a national mandate to promote research and investigate all problems related to sugarcane and such other crops, processing into sugar and by-products, and their systems of husbandry, productivity, quality and sustainability of land and matters ancillary thereto.
The institute has the following objectives:
Promote demand-driven participatory research, planning and priority setting;
Organize, design and carry out research that leads to the generation of crop production and processing technologies and innovations for enhancing productivity, value addition, competitiveness and sustainability of the Kenya sugar industry;
Identify/develop appropriate production, policy, market, processing and co-product utilization options for enhancing an integrated sugar industry;
Identify and disseminate, in collaboration with relevant agencies and stakeholders, appropriate systems of mechanization, cane transport and technology options to improve sugarcane production and productivity
In collaboration with agricultural extension services, training institutions (private and public) and other organizations, disseminate and promote research findings, technologies and innovations;
Establish and maintain contacts with regional and international agricultural research institutions to ensure rapid introduction, evaluation and use of available technology of potential benefit to the industry;
Together with the KALRO Secretariat, conduct annual research results and modify research programmes as appropriate
Sugar Research Institute (SRI)
P.O. Box 44 - 40100
KISUMU – KENYA
SRI,Sugarcane Breeding Centre, Mtwapa
P.O. Box 10275 – 80109
BAMBURI – KENYA
Tel: +254 20 204 7304
SRI, Opapo Centre
P.O. Box 21 -40404
RONGO – KENYA
Tel: +254 20 204 7314
SRI Mumias Centre
P.O. Box 113 -50102
MUMIAS - KENYA
Tel: +254 772641390