By Joshua Kato
Ugandan farmers have welcomed a move by the Kenyan government to allow dairy products re-enter the Kenyan market.
Last week, it was announced that newly elected Kenyan President Samoe Ruto has suspended the ban on dairy exports from Uganda.
“This is good news because it re-opens another market for Ugandan products. Farmers must genuinely grab this opportunity,” said Justine Mugisha, a dairy farmer in Mbarara.
He, however, implored farmers to ensure that the quality is maintained, quantities are sustained or else another ban may come.
“Price of milk became unstable after Kenya stopped taking in our milk. Let us hope for better stability after the market is reopened,” Charles Matsiko, another dairy cattle keeper said.
Uganda produces about 2.9 billion litres of milk per year.
Kenya was one of the main markets for this milk, however, for several years now, Uganda and Kenya have been involved in a see-saw over the export of agriculture produce including dairy products.
In 2019, a suspension was placed on export of Ugandan milk products to Kenya.
Some of the reasons given were that Kenyans were not sure the exported milk originated from Uganda.
They thought that it may be imported into the country from other countries, before it is repackaged and exported to Kenya.
A Kenyan delegation was given access to the various milk exporters to ascertain if this milk was indeed Ugandan. But even after this visit, the suspension continued.
Other complaints included the ‘poor’ quality of the exported milk.
Naturally, this affected the sector and of course dairy farmers.
Prices dropped among farmers who were directly supplying the processing plants for example in Mbarara. Some farms even diversified to keeping beef cattle.