Kenya delays trade mission to Uganda to resolve sugar, milk standoff

Harry Kimtai, Kenya's Principal Secretary State Department for Livestock, says the Kenya-Uganda November meeting on trade will not take place as planned as the Kenya Dairy Board was not ready.. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

What you need to know:

  • The Pearl Dairies, makers of Lato milk, secured annual supplies of milk to Zambia after the company suffered major losses when Kenya stopped exports of its products in 2019.

Kenya has postponed a trade mission to Uganda to resolve the sugar and milk import standoff until December, amid jitters on whether the two countries are ready to find a lasting solution to the impasse.

Kenya’s Principal Secretary State Department of Livestock, Harry Kimtai, said the November meeting will not take place as planned as the Kenya Dairy Board was not ready.

The officials are scheduled to visit Uganda in a bid to resolve the standoff between Nairobi and Kampala over milk and sugar exports to Kenya.

The visit is to verify claims that sugar and milk imported from the landlocked neighbour originates from third-party countries -- a claim Kampala denies.

“The dairy board was not ready and we have had to push this meeting to December,” said Mr Kimtai in an interview with the Business Daily.

Uganda had last month invited Kenya’s Agriculture and Trade ministerial teams to Kampala for dialogue to clear the stalemate.

Ugandan High Commissioner to Kenya and the Seychelles, Hassan Wasswa Galiwango, last month in Nairobi said: “Uganda is supposed to export milk to Kenya but there is a problem that will be resolved soon. We have invited the government of Kenya to send a delegation to inspect Uganda milk factories, to ascertain Uganda’s capacity to produce [exportable] excess.”

Kenya and Uganda have in the past year been embroiled in serious feuds over several products including sugar, milk, and poultry products.

The trade delegation to Kampala comes at a time when Uganda has been allowed to access the Zambian market, giving them an alternative for their commodity.

The Pearl Dairies, makers of Lato milk, secured annual supplies of milk to Zambia after the company suffered major losses when Kenya stopped exports of its products in 2019.

The firm is the largest processor of milk in Uganda with a daily capacity of 800,000 litres. Its brand was popular in Kenya and retailed at a lower cost when compared with the local ones.

Zambia blocked Kenyan milk from accessing its market 13 years ago over standard issues and Nairobi through its High Commission office in Lusaka has over the years been frantically fighting to access that market in vain.

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