Kenyan President William Ruto has given the green light for Uganda to continue exporting milk to Kenya since it is produced cheaply.
In his first meeting with the Kenya manufacturing sector last week, Ruto argued that instead of Kenyans blocking Ugandan dairy products, they should add value to their own milk.
He said Kenya was having a quarrel with Uganda because they had refused to take their rightful place on the continent.
He explained that the reason why Africa was importing milk powder and food was because Kenya had not taken its place.
“Kenya is supposed to be the country that positions Africa appropriately to make sure that we supply every commodity and product that we should. Instead, we are having a quarrel with Uganda because it’s bringing cheaper milk. Uganda should export cheaper milk because they can produce it much more cheaply. We should be adding value to our own milk,” Ruto said.
Meeting members of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers at Serena Hotel, Nairobi last week, he said Kenya plans to improve the local milk value chain, which includes the first 300 milk coolers.
“We will have another 660 milk coolers and we are going to add value to our milk. We should be adding value to the milk from our farmers. We should produce butter and powdered milk, sell it to the DR Congo, Central Africa, and West Africa, and then drink what we import cheaply from Uganda,” Ruto said.
He expressed confidence in his trade, investment and industry minister nominee – Moses Kuria – whom he said had the potential to execute the plans.
Uganda’s agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze on Monday, October 24, welcomed Ruto’s decision, saying: “Trade between Uganda and Kenya was always going on. We, therefore, welcome the stronger commitment from the Kenyan government to smoothen the trading framework and remove any direct and indirect barriers.”
Allan Patrick Iga, a dairy farmer, commended Kenya for the decision, saying it would improve the farm gate prices.
“When we take milk to Kenya, it will improve the farm gate price. We have a lot in stock and many dealers who buy from farmers are taking advantage of this to cheat farmers. When the Kenyan market is opened, it will be a game-changer,” Iga said.
In December 2019, Kenya blocked the importation of Uganda’s Lato Milk brand, and in July 2020, Kenya followed this up with a ban on Ugandan sugar.
It later also extended its ban to poultry products, especially eggs.
In December 2021, Uganda threatened to consider restricting some of Kenya’s raw and processed agricultural products from its market in retaliation for what they had done.
While being vetted by the Kenyan parliament last week, Kuria questioned the decision of Kenya to block Ugandan eggs, saying: “I spoke to the trade minister of Uganda who told me something profound; that every week Uganda imports one million day-old chicks from Kenya, which eventually mature. How can you refuse eggs from your own chicken?” Kuria said.
Uganda remains Kenya’s main export market for a number of products. However, there have been
frequent trade disputes involving agricultural products from Uganda exported to Kenya, such as sugar, eggs, maize and milk.
Kenyan exports to Uganda in 2020 amounted to $673.66m (about sh2.5 trillion) while Uganda’s exports to Kenya stood at $465.55m (sh1.7 trillion).
Statistics released last year by the central bank of Kenya showed Kenya’s exports to Uganda dipped
8.5% to $386.3m during the half year compared to the same period in 2021.