In a bid to establish facts on alleged ban on maize exports from Uganda to Kenya, the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to visit maize traders at the border of the two countries.
He was speaking in reference to a response made by the Minister of State for Trade, Harriet Ntabazi on the ban of maize exports from Uganda to Kenya.
Ntabazi who was responding to a matter that was raised by Busia Municipality Member of Parliament, Geofrey Macho said that there is no ban on maize exports from Uganda by the Kenyan government.
“Trade between Uganda and Kenya continues to be handled smoothly with exports averaging $ 30 million annually for the past three years,” Ntabazi said.
“However, within East African Community (EAC), we have adopted harmonized standards on grain, with maize inclusive. All exporters must meet this EAC standard, prior to export,” she added.
Regarding wheat, Ntabazi said that Uganda is a net importer of wheat. She explained that Uganda does not have any significant exports of wheat to Kenya or any other parts of the East Africa Community because it is a deficit producer.
But Tayebwa said that there is need for the minister to interface with traders at the border to inform her statement to Parliament.
“I want to give the minister a chance to visit some of these borders and meet these traders and you bring a comprehensive statement. I am giving you two weeks because this is an urgent matter,” said Tayebwa.
He also pointed out that the matter involves international relations and advised the minister to engage counterparts from the Kenyan government. His guidance followed concerns from lawmakers, who said that the minister’s statement was lacking.
Elijah Mushemeza (Indep. Sheema County South) pointed out that the minister’s statement focused on demand and supply of maize, ignoring the aspect of international relations.
“What will convince the people of East Africa to embrace integration is free movement of goods. I want to suggest that the Trade Minister liaises with Minister of EAC and our President,” Mushemeza said.
He said that Uganda has faced challenges with Rwanda and Tanzania, pointing out that the Kenyan issue has persisted.
“We cannot continue like this in the marriage of integration. This is not a simple matter of demand and supply. Even if you organize another statement, that will not be enough, integration should not be limited to words, it must be seen in action. People must see free movement of goods and service in practice,” Mushemeza said.
Peter Okeyoh (NRM, Bukooli Island County) said that several farmers are stranded with maize in Busia.
“These are women who have borrowed money and they are stranded. Maize is not going to Kenya through Busia and the lake. The Kenyan authorities said that they no longer want our maize; are we really still in the EAC integration?” Okeyoh asked.
Kashongi County MP, Herbert Tayebwa decried the sharp fall in maize prices from Shs1, 500 to Shs800, blaming it on the ban on exportation of maize to Kenya.
“The price is determined by demand and people are increasing. The minister needs to explain since production has not outgrown demand, why is the price going down?” Tayebwa said.
Butembe County Representative, David Zijjan said that whilst there may be no ban on maize exportation to Kenya, the Kenyan government has banned issuance of permits to millers there to import maize from any country, including Uganda.