Over the past year, several businesses in Uganda have decried unfair trade relations within the East African Community.
Case examples are the ban of maize in 2021 which affected Ugandan traders and the recent non-issuance of milk export permits by Kenya Dairy Board to numerous milk producers in Uganda.
Kenya has reportedly been the leading buyer of Uganda’s milk products, although the trade relations have not been consistent due to several barriers, prompting Uganda’s milk producers to search for new markets for their milk and milk products.
Among the repercussions of trade tensions within the East African Community is the recent laying off of over 100 staff by Brookside Limited, following a drop in its exported products to Kenya.
In a letter addressed to the Commissioner of Labour at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Winnie Mirembe Mugabi, the Human Resource and Administration Manager of Brookside Limited, explains that the Kenyan government’s failure to grant export permits to Brookside Limited has denied the company access to 75 per cent of its market since March 2023.
Nyakato Freda, a dairy farmer based in Mubende district said that since April 2023, her farm has hardly supplied milk to the Fresh Dairy milk collection center close to her.
“I used to supply milk daily, but now I resorted to selling it to my neighbours at a discounted price, a decision which has negatively affected my livelihood and capability to support my family.”
The government of Uganda has on several occasions lobbied the Kenyan government in vain and has since advised local farmers and milk producers to strengthen local product uptake through Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) initiatives as well as lobby for other alternative markets such as Algeria, Middle East and Europe.