Commodities

State reverses ban on powder milk importation as new rules awaited

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Principal Secretary State Department for Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation Harry Kimtai. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai has suspended the notice issued by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) last week, banning the importation of powder milk.

In a letter to importers of the commodity, the PS allowed them to continue bringing in supplies, especially from the East African Community.

“Take note that importation of products under the East African Community (EAC) protocol refers to goods being imported from outside the East African Community, while goods traded within EAC are referred to as transfers,” Mr Kimtai wrote in the letter dated March 14, 2023.

Read: Dairy board freezes milk powder importation

“The stoppage issued through Kenya Dairy Board letter … is hereby suspended to allow for the Dairy Industry (Import and Export) Regulations 2021 to apply accordingly.”

The dairy board had said that rains are expected this month, an outcome that will significantly boost local milk production and reduce imports.

“In anticipation of the long rains, the government has stopped the importation of milk powders to cushion the industry from surplus production and low producer prices,” KDB’s managing director Margaret Kibogy wrote to importers in a letter dated March 6.

The regulations cited by Mr Kimtai describe several factors that KDB needs to take into account before issuing a licence for the export or import of dairy products.

These include the need to prevent the dumping of dairy produce or product, whether there is a deficit or surplus and the risks involved.

The directive by the PS now reinstates importation of the powder milk, giving the licensed traders more headroom before the imports are banned or reduced.

The ban elicited mixed reactions with the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU), terming the move as unfortunate.

“Kenya’s ban on importation of our products contradicts the East African Community trade protocols,” PSFU is quoted saying by the local media.

Read: New KCC asks for Sh3bn for milk powder reserve fund

The policy flip-flop comes at a time when Kenya and Uganda are yet to resolve a trade dispute on milk imports, which in 2021 saw the government confiscate hundreds of tonnes of the commodity from the neighbouring landlocked nation.

The recent long drought resulted in the current high milk prices following the scarcity of the commodity.

On supermarket shelves, the prices go past Sh65 for a 500ml packet of fresh milk.

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