A major shift in the cereals trade in the region is in the offing as Uganda implements a policy on value addition that will compel dealers to process commodities before export.
Ugandan traders have been exporting grain to Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, DR Congo and South Sudan, and importing maize bran and other feeds processed from cereals, particularly from Kenya.
But a reversal is expected where these countries will import only flour and byproducts from the grains like maize, soybean, groundnuts, peanuts and tubers like cassava.
The latest development is intended to solve a livestock feed shortage, ensure feed quality, control contamination and build a strong livestock and poultry feeds industry in Uganda.
“The challenges in the livestock sector call for a rethink of the policy on exporting unprocessed grains. We, therefore, recommend policies that compel all traders to process maize before export to generate maize bran that will benefit the livestock sector,” Junior Agriculture Minister Joy Kabatsi told parliament.
Uganda has close to 73 million heads of livestock but these largely depend on foraging, which is often affected by prolonged dry spells.
Contribution from the livestock subsector has stagnated at 4.4 per cent of revenues for over a decade. The increasing demand for livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs, provides an opportunity for growing the agro-industry.
“By processing animal feed for regional markets, farmers and processors will reap more benefits generate more income and employment opportunities,” said Ms Kabatsi.
While the ban on export of raw cereals has been welcomed, there is a looming threat to food security in the country and at regional level.
The prolonged drought led to a poor harvest in 2016, the impact of which is being felt through high food and animal feed prices.