By Arnold Nyapidi
Members of Parliament (MPs) want Government to expedite the enactment of regulations on the Islamic Halal policy, which would among other issues, restrict slaughtering of animals to Muslims, in order to enable Uganda tap into the lucrative Arab- Islamic beef market.
This was after Harriet Ntabazi, Minister of State for Trade informed Parliament’s Trade Committee that the absence of regulations and a policy in Uganda requiring people involved in the production and processing of meat, goats meat, mutton possess halal certificates is costing Uganda billions in foreign exchange earning especially in Arab countries.
“Qatar has a very big market for beef, mutton and goats meat. Uganda has the beef, goats meat and mutton, but the challenge is only one, we don’t have the halal certificates. We have the goats, cows and sheep slaughtered here, and it is very impossible for them to export live cows, goats or sheep, they don’t want it, they want beef, goats meat and mutton. It is Kenya which has the certificate, so all the cows, goats and sheep in Uganda are being ferried to Kenya to be cut there,” said Ntabazi.
The Trade minister made the remarks during a meeting with Parliament’s trade Committee on December 11, 2023 at Parliament in Kampala.
Yusuf Mutembuli, Bunyole West Mp noted that although the Islamic nations do expect Uganda to come up with a law that only Muslims should slaughter animals, Uganda doesn’t have such a law and instead, the country relies on customs, culture and Islamic understanding, which isn’t enough and could explain the scepticism the Islamic nations have towards consuming Uganda meat products.
“The fear of Islamic countries is that because we don’t have a policy that restricts the slaughtering of animals to only Muslims, they can’t be sure that the meat we are transporting to their countries has been slaughtered by Muslims,” the Bunyole legislator said, “To them, they are a little bit hesitant and doubtful whether what we send outside is halal that is their greatest fear.”
“Otherwise to them, if we had a law and they look at it that it is solely Muslims who is supposed to slaughter either chicken, goats meat, perhaps that would comfort them and they say, that is the position of the law in that country,” added Mutembuli.
Mutembuli called on Ugandans to consider having a honest discussion on the debate of having halal policy implemented in the country if it is interested in the commercial aspect it would bring to the country.
“If we feel that business is important, I think it is an eye opener that we decide that whichever meat is slaughtered must be by a Muslim. Time is now for us to think about it if we can come up with a law restricting it. But the practice is, every meat that is sold on market is slaughtered by a Muslim that is what I know in this country, but as far as I know, we don’t have a law that restricts that the animals by Muslims, it is only one animal that a Muslim can’t slaughter, that you know,” Mutembuli reasoned.
Abed Bwanika, the Kimanya Kabonera Division Mp argued that every market is specific in terms of the requirements and when we talk about the beef industry and the Muslim world, the market requires that the meat meets the standard of halal, which calls for the need by Government to come up with regulations within our law to provide for halal production and processing.
“It is a very huge market, it isn’t only in Qatar, but Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates among others. Our meat is one of the highest quality meat in the world, it tastes well, and it has a good aroma that blends well the fat and the meat. And the Arab world is looking for this meat, but we don’t have the quantities. We must put enough funds in our agriculture sector, not just 3% of the national budget, we must put into 10% of the national budget into agriculture so that we can use it to create jobs, alleviate poverty and also earn foreign exchange,” said Bwanika.
As per Volza’s United Arab Emirates Import data, Meat import shipments in United Arab Emirates stood at 232,000, imported by 2,595 United Arab Emirates Importers from 1,238 Suppliers. United Arab Emirates imports most of its Meat from India, Pakistan and Brazil and is the 2nd largest importer of Meat in the World. South Africa also recently joined the list of importers after meat ban was lifted.