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Kadaga Gives Farmers Hope After Kenya Milk Ban

by Wangah Wanyama
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By John Masaba and Prossy Nandudu

The Minister of East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, has assured Uganda milk dealers that all efforts are being made to ensure that the country’s milk exports are not interrupted following the recent notice from Kenya that it plans to cut back on imports from Uganda.

Kadaga noted that she contacted Rebecca Miano, the East Africa Community affairs minister and has informed her that if effected, the ban would be damaging to Uganda dairy industry and to spirit of the East African Community.

Kadaga was addressing journalists on Friday (March10) during an engagement with the media at the East Affairs ministry in Kampala.  

 “Yesterday (Thursday) I contacted Hon Rebecca Miano, the EAC minister for Kenya, who herself had not seen the letter. So I sent her a copy and she said she is going to handle it,” she said.

She added: “So I believe that Madam Miano is going to handle it.”

Dairy Development Authority (DDA) executive director, Samson Akankiza also said they have engaged their Kenyan counterparts on the matter.

“Although they didn’t mention it to us, we are working on the issue to reinstate the market,” Akankiza told New Vision.

Akankiza explained that on average Uganda has been exporting milk products to Kenya worth $100m (about sh370.3b).

Godwin Tumwebaze, an official at GBK group of companies, told New Vision that the impending ban could not have come at a worse time for them  as they had applied to start exporting milk to Kenya.

“We submitted our documents. We are waiting for their response, but it is taking rather long than usual. We don’t know if our application (in the light of the notice of the ban),” said Tumwebaze, whose company is pushing to export liquid milk .  

Kenyan ban

In a notice dated March 6 to all milk importers in Kenya, the Kenya Dairy Board, KDB, said it was moving to protect local farmers from external products, as output is expected to increase soon.

“In anticipation of the long rains, the Government has stopped the importation of milk powders to cushion the industry from surplus production and low prices,” says a statement signed by Margaret Kibogy, the KDB Managing Director.

She said that the Board will no longer issue new import permits until further notice.

Though the letter does not state it, analysts believe the notice targets imports from Uganda, which until recently, were being blocked from the Kenyan market.

Kenya is Uganda’s major milk market but the constant barriers have prompted the search for wider markets, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Zambia, and Algeria.

Akankiza says that for dairy products like casein, whey protein powder, UHT milk, and milk powder, the main destinations have been the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Japan, Oman, USA, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Processed milk accounts for more than 35 percent of Uganda’s marketed milk, according to DDA. It is not known how much of the milk powder is exported to Kenya.

Increased production

Dairy exports increased from $92.4m in the financial year 2020/2021 to $102.6m in the 2021/2022, according to the dairy performance report for the financial year 2021/22. 

The report indicates that new destinations for Uganda’s milk include the United States of America and Somalia in addition to existing markets in the East African Community and COMESA region among other countries.

Products that were exported most include UHT Milk, Butter, Casein (a type of protein extracted from milk used by food processors), milk powder, whey protein (a water soluble protein extracted from milk used as a food supplement for athletes as an alternative to milk), cheese among others.

Many agricultural products from Uganda have over the last few years faced blockages in Kenya. It was not until the commencement of the presidency of William Ruto that there was a ray of hope for Uganda when he told Kenya manufacturers that imports from Uganda should be allowed as it would be expensive to sustain the ban. 

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