In anticipation of the long rains this year, the Kenya Dairy Board issued a statement dated March 6, 2023 stating that the government of Kenya has stopped the importation of milk powders to cushion the industry from surplus production and low producer prices.
Consequently, the Kenya Dairy Board says that it will monitor the production and demand for milk and milk products in the country and advise its government accordingly.
This announcement directly reinstates the 2021 ban of Ugandan milk products importation into Kenya which goes against Kenyan President Ruto’s recent directive to lift a ban on Ugandan agricultural produce such as milk, eggs and chicken. This followed a meeting between President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Kenyan Trade Minister Kuria Moses in Kampala, late January 2023.
According to the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) of Uganda, milk production is estimated to have increased from 2.08 billion litres in 2015 to 2.64 billion litres in 2020. By the end of 2021 milk production was estimated to reach 2.81 billion short of the target of 3.0 billion litres.
Dairy exports in the country reached a record high of shillings 358.6 billion in the last four years and nearly doubled compared to last FY 2019/20 with dairy equipment valued at shillings 18.9 billion being imported in the country to support the growing trade.
This implies that milk production in Uganda is on the increase with massive investments by dairy producers and farmers.
DDA observes that the growth and sustainability of the dairy subsector strives to provide wealth and improved health for Uganda.
Musinguzi Ethan, a dairy farmer in Sembabule district said that the new reinstated ban on dairy exports from Uganda to Kenya will set him back since he might fail to pay school fees for his three school going children whose family heavily relies on dairy farming for survival.
“I often sell my milk early morning at the milk collection centre near my home because the managers there have often informed us of the increased demand for milk within Uganda and beyond.”
In the past, milk farm gate prices have gone as low as shillings 400 per litre, and yet currently there is more stability with an increase to shillings 1,075 per litre as reported by DDA, 2021.
Currently, DDA reports over 880 licensed dairy businesses. Of these, some of the major producers include Pearl Dairies, Brookside Limited/ Fresh Dairy, Jesa Farm Dairy, Amos Dairies Uganda Limited, Paramount Dairies Limited, GBK Dairy Products Limited and Lakeside Dairy Limited among others.
The livelihood of dairy farmers in Uganda depends on both local consumption and export of milk and milk products. According to the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), dairy farming is a strategic enterprise in Uganda that provides household food security and daily incomes to the large population.
Milk farm gate prices have also increased to an average of shillings 1,072 per litre.
Uganda being a member of the East African Community, there is need for Government intervention in lobbying the Kenyan government to lift the ban on milk exports from Uganda. This is in line with one of the objectives of the EAC that seeks to progressively transform into a single market that allows for free movement of goods, persons, services, labour and capital.