Agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze has said they are looking into the issue of banning export of maize grain and only allowing flour exports.
On Tuesday, September 6, 2022, Tumwebaze said he gets suggestions and agitations from many maize farmers/processors, that government should impose restrictions on the export of maize grain and, instead, allow flour exports.
“Their argument is that this would bring in more value and also make animal feeds available and cheaper,” he stated in a tweet.
On the way forward, Tumwebaze said his ministry will work with stakeholders to conduct a study on the impact of such a policy proposition, and that the research evidence generated will inform the policy direction.
Grain Council of Uganda acting executive director Henry Musisi told the media in July that East African countries had ratified and agreed on a set of minimum standards on all grains.
“It is only grain that is clean and dried to agreed moisture levels that should be graded, packed in standard bags and allowed to be exported,” he is quoted as having said.
Musisi stated that traders from Kenya and Rwanda wanted to buy maize from the farms, saying that this would distort prices.
He also said the export of ungraded maize had been recorded across all border posts leading to Kenya, South Sudan and other East African countries.
10,000 tonnes a day
Grain Council of Uganda acting executive director Henry Musisi also stated that the country has the capacity to process and store all the maize it produces, but that some dealers choose to sell the commodity on the farm, which has, in effect, stifled growth of processing facilities, whose installed capacity stands at more than 10,000 tonnes per day.
He told the media that currently, processors are operating at a capacity of between 30% and 40%, yet unprocessed maize is exported at low rates, with little or no value addition.
“We don’t want to lock out anyone from the market, including our neighbours, but they should take maize that meets the East African Community standards,” Musisi said.
He noted that the market had been eroded by the open purchase of maize when it is still on the farm, thereby affecting quality and development of related industries, such as millers and processors.
Experts say maize is an important ingredient in the manufacture of white flour, which is one of the largest food items in East Africa.