Following a milk debacle between Kenya and its largest trade partner, Uganda, the countries have now agreed to resume talks about the road ahead. This, after Kenya stopped importing milk from Uganda over concerns that it weren’t coming from local farmers.
It was alleged that Uganda was using imported powdered milk, reconstituting it, and then selling it to Kenya under the guise of being freshly produced. The talks are due to kick off later this month. Harry Kimtai, Kenya’s principal secretary for livestock, confirmed that he has already reached out to Kampala’s foreign affairs office.
“We have agreed with Uganda that we will visit the country next month for a verification mission that will help us resolve the outstanding issues on milk once and for all,” said Kimtai via social media.
Kenya’s current goal is to investigate whether the previous allegations are true, as the country previously relied heavily on milk imports from Uganda. The team of investigators includes food scientists, customs officials and trade experts.
Cheaper milk from Uganda
Each year, Uganda produces 2.6 billion litres of milk. Domestic demand, on the other hand, is just 800 million litres, resulting in a massive excess. Milk imported from Uganda is also sold for cheaper than locally-produced Kenyan milk.
By the time Kenya withdrew the Lato milk brand from the market, it was selling for around Sh40 per half litre, compared to Sh45 for local brands, leaving processors with unsold stock as price-conscious buyers preferred the cheaper imported product.
Kenya banned importing Ugandan milk, mainly Lato, in December 2019, sparking a chain of trade bans between the two East African nations.
Kenya is Uganda’s most important trading partner. Kenyan exports to Uganda totalled $673.66 million in 2020, while Ugandan exports to Kenya totalled $465.55 million during the same time period.
“We know that Uganda has no capacity to produce all this milk and there is a likelihood that most of it come from Europe before finding its way to Kenya,” said Stanley Ng’ombe, the chairperson of the Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation to Business Daily in 2020.