Ugandan Cabinet hits Kenya with farm goods export ban


The Busia one-stop border post at the Kenya-Uganda crossing. FILE PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NMG

Uganda will restrict from its domestic market some of Kenya’s raw and processed agricultural products in a reciprocal move that follows her eastern neighbour’s continued ban on some of her agricultural products.

On Monday, the Ugandan Cabinet finally agreed to this nearly two-year proposal, which has often been opposed by President Yoweri Museveni.

According to Rebecca Kadaga, Ugandan Minister for East African Affairs, the Cabinet has directed the Agriculture ministry to identify and list Kenyan products that will then be banned by the Ugandan government “in a short time.”

Key agricultural exports to Uganda from Kenya include palm oil at Sh7.2 billion last year, sorghum (Sh1.4 billion), vegetables (Sh311 million) and legumes (Sh200 million).

“We have been too patient. In the past, we have not reciprocated, but now we are going to. This has gone on for too long and within a short time they too will understand what we are going through,” Ms Kadaga told journalists yesterday morning.

Kenya and Uganda have for long had trade fights but the latest hostilities between the two East African Community states began brewing in December 2019, when Kenya stopped importing Ugandan milk, particularly the Latobrand.

In July 2020, Kenya followed up with a ban on Ugandan sugar, against an earlier agreement to increase Uganda’s sugar exports to Kenya.

Players within Uganda’s poultry industry this week petitioned their government over Kenya’s ban of Uganda’s poultry products from their market for nearly a year now. Kenya also stopped all chicken, meat and egg imports on grounds that it needed to support its “producers to recover from disruptions in their livestock enterprises occasioned by Covid-19”.

Kenya maintains that some of the products are substandard and that it’s protecting its domestic market.

Kenya is Uganda’s biggest trade partner. Kenya Exports to Uganda was Sh76.1 billion during 2020, while Uganda Exports to Kenya stood at Sh52.6 billion during the same period.

Observers believe the current trade row could have long-running implications for imports and exports across the East African region.

Observers have pointed out that the restrictions go against a Customs Union Protocol established by the East African Community (EAC) single market.

* updated