Pressure is mounting on the Kenyan Government to solve the row with Uganda regarding the ban on the importation of milk products into the country.
Reports indicated that Kenyan traders stocked long-life milk from Uganda because it is relatively cheaper compared to local brands due to the lower cost of production in the neighbouring country.
Several traders lamented that they were unable to stock the commodity after the ban despite huge demand from consumers.
"Our customers are asking why we no longer stock these products, but we are not receiving any supplies from Kampala," Edwin Ngala told the press.
Currently, Kenya is the leading buyer of milk products from Uganda - with the prices estimated to hit Ksh19.2 billion annually. The latest World Bank report revealed that the value of Uganda's milk was raised by 158 tonnes hitting the Ksh100 billion valuation.
Uganda’s industry regulator, the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) Executive Director Samson Akankiza signalled dire consequences for the bilateral trade between the two countries.
In particular, he warned that the trade row could have long-standing implications and an overall impact on East African Community (EAC) relations.
Uganda's DDA is reportedly holding over 24 million litres of milk following the imposed ban. Owing to the demand for the product, Kenya is also searching for other markets including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Algeria.
The ban received mixed reactions online with critics and proponents weighing in on the long-term effects of the move.
Some opined that the ban is likely to encourage smuggling of the commodity across the border.
"We need to address the factors that are making our milk expensive. Banning Uganda milk is only a short-term solution and ignoring the fact that locally produced goods are expensive as compared to our neighbours," Jeff Muturi stated.
"It is a bad move. Kenya's border towns with Uganda from Malaba, Busia, Suam to Moroto will have a high smuggling rate. A better way would be to slightly raise its tax," lamented another.
Others, however, lauded the move and intimated that the ban would allow Kenyan products to be prioritised in the market.
Uganda focuses on pasture-based dairy farming which allows the cost of production to be significantly lower than in other countries, standing at Ksh22.45 per litre.
Low cost of production is attributed to more efficient feeding regimes such as paddocking as well as improving breeding cycles and better control of diseases on farms.
On March 6, 2023, the Kenya Dairy Board announced the ban to cushion the local traders who anticipated surplus products owing to expected rains at the time.
This was, however, suspended following discussions between the two governments. The move saw the reduction in the volume of importation of milk powder into the country which created confusion among Ugandan sellers who anticipated a return in profits.