KENYA – The Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) has stopped the importation of milk powder from Uganda in an attempt to “cushion the industry from surplus production and low producer prices”

The board subsequently issued a notice on March 6th to importers that read “the KDB has temporarily suspended the issuance of the import permits until further notice”

According to the KDB managing director, Mary Kibogy, the move is aimed at cushioning the industry from surplus production and low producer prices in anticipation of the long rains.

She said, “We will however continue to monitor the production and demand for milk and milk products in the country and advise the Government accordingly.”

There have also been continuous calls from stakeholders in the industry or the government to ban milk from Uganda as it is cheaper and outcompetes Kenyan products in the markets.

This is the second time the country has suspended the importation of dairy products from Uganda. In 2020, the country silently stopped Ugandan milk exports from entering the Kenyan market.

The President of Kenya, William Ruto, addressed the matter and urged the Association of Kenya Manufacturers to allow imports from Uganda into the country while the more expensive Kenyan milk is processed for international markets.

“We should be adding value (to our milk), producing butter, powder for sale in the DRC, Central Africa and West Africa and we import cheaper milk from Uganda for our consumption,” said Ruto.

The recent decision by the KDB to suspend milk powder imports from Uganda is seen to go against the East Africa Community (EAC) free trade agreements of free movement of goods and services and common market.

Uganda’s NRM Eastern national vice chairman Mike Mukula took to Twitter to claim this might “trigger an open trade war” between the EAC countries.

Kenya is one of Uganda’s largest milk markets and according to data cited in the OEC, a data visualization site for international trade, Kenya imported US$38.2 million worth of dairy from Uganda in 2020.

The country also imports dairy from the UAE, Rwanda, Denmark and Germany.

With the highest per capita milk consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa at 110 litres, domestic production often fails to cater for the demand.

Kenya produces about 4 billion litres of milk annually from its five million dairy herd. The demand currently lies at 8 billion litres per year and is expected to grow with the steady increase in the population.

To bridge this gap, the government is working together with the private sector to break the monopoly in the dairy sector and facilitate self-sufficiency.

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