BY SALIM KALANZI
A move by the Ugandan government to drag Kenya to the East African Court over the continued blockade of milk and sugar products could strain relations between the two States.
Since 2017, sugar and milk has been at the center of an ongoing disagreement between Kenya and Uganda.
Kenya’s decision over the last three years to block Uganda’s sugar and milk is partly related to its origin.
Uganda’s State Minister for East African Affairs Julius Maganda said Uganda is not ruling out taking Kenya to the regional court if diplomatic means fail.
“We shall not waver going to court over the matter,” Maganda was quoted in a local media.
“We have requested the Attorney General (AG) to put the matter to the community’s business council as we wait for what will come out of the summit scheduled for February 26 and 27 but if all options fail, we are considering going to court,” Maganda said.
The growing trade tensions has seen officials in Kenya confiscate hundreds of tonnes of Lato Milk from Uganda last year.
The confiscation of Lato Milk followed complaints from several Kenyan farmers over the influx of Ugandan milk on its market, something that threatened thousands of livelihoods.
Reports show that milk prices in Kenya touched historic lows of sh17 per litre, forcing the government to intervene to save Kenyan farmers.
Uganda produces 2.6 billion litres of milk per annum. However, domestic demand stands at only 800 million litres, creating a huge surplus.
The attractiveness of Ugandan milk to Kenya is helped by a lower production cost that stands at about sh17 when compared with Kenya’s sh26 on average per litre.
Uganda’s trade minister Amelia Kyambadde told legislators that although efforts at ministerial and head of State level had been made to resolve the trade dispute “Kenya has continued to breach commitments it has made.”
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga called onto the head of government to act and protect the interests of Ugandans.
“I am surprised that our people continue to suffer, but we do not reciprocate,” she was quoted in local media.
“Kenyan authorities protect its farmers, but who protects ours and yet we have been attracting investors on account of accessing the EAC market,” she added.