Milk imports from Uganda baffle Kenyan officials

Saturday December 14 2019

Kenyan farmers deliver milk to a processing plant.

Kenyan farmers deliver milk to a processing plant. Under the current rules of origin, only goods produced wholly from local inputs are allowed to cross national borders without attracting Customs taxes. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NMG 

GERALD ANDAE
By GERALD ANDAE
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JAMES ANYANZWA
By JAMES ANYANZWA
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A Kenyan government delegation is set to visit Uganda this week to determine if milk imports coming into the country are Ugandan or from other sources.

The move follows a surge in volumes of imported milk purportedly from Uganda amid rising complaints that the country has no capacity to export such huge quantities to Kenya.

The EastAfrican has learnt that Ksh10.5 billion ($105 million) worth of milk imports from Uganda has found its way into the Kenyan market compared with a low of Ksh2.5 billion ($25 million) and Ksh8.1 billion ($81 million) in 2016 and 2017 respectively, putting Kenyan milk producers at a competitive disadvantage.

“We have seen a surge in milk imports from Uganda and that is what we want to investigate to find out what has really caused this milk glut in Uganda. We don’t discriminate products on the basis of originality as long as they are safe and meet the quality standards,” Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade Chris Kiptoo told The EastAfrican.

“Uganda is our biggest trading partner in the region and we want to engage with them in a friendly manner.” Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said a team comprising officers from the ministry and that of Agriculture will be visiting Uganda to ascertain the origin of the commodity.

“My PS is today meeting with his counterpart from Uganda to plan this verification meeting to be held next week,” said Mr Munya in an interview with Business Daily.

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Data presented to Kenyan parliament shows that milk imported from East African Community (EAC) member states hit 110.7 million litres between January and September from three million litres in 2016.

Most imports came from Uganda, and Kenya cannot stop imports from Uganda because of the EAC protocol.

“A decision can only be reached after we conduct the verification,” Mr Munya said.

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimutai said Kenya had written to the Trade Ministry seeking intervention over the high volumes of milk coming from Uganda.

After the investigations, the ministry is expected to come up with remedial measures as prescribed under the EAC protocol. Currently, the possibility that some of the milk could be coming from countries other than Uganda cannot be ruled out.

Last week, Kenyan parliament took officials from the Kenya Dairy Board and the State Department of Livestock to task over why there was a sharp rise in volumes of milk coming from Uganda.

Data presented to the Agriculture Committee indicated that the volumes coming from Uganda have been increasing for the past three years.

The House committee ordered the ministry to stop the imports as they were hurting local farmers with processors buying a litre of milk on average, at Ksh19 ($09.19), down from a high of Ksh37 ($0.37) in January.

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