16 June 2014

Uganda: Raw Milk Traders Run to Museveni to Fight Ban

A proposed ban on the sale of unprocessed raw milk in urban centres has continued to attract stiff resistance and drawn in President Museveni.

On June 6, raw milk traders and the minister of state for Animal Husbandry, Bright Rwamirama, faced off at President Museveni's country home, Rwakitura. Sources familiar with the meeting said President Museveni called for more consultations. Museveni, the sources said, called the meeting following a public outcry from milk traders.

Rwamirama is reported to have faced hostility from the traders in the presence of the president. Museveni asked Rwamirama why he was hurrying to implement an unpopular ban on raw milk sale, our sources told us. The president reportedly calmed the traders' fears by calling for yet another, more inclusive meeting for all milk stakeholders in the country on June 28, 2014, according to our source.

Apparently President Museveni made this decision after realising that 913 milk traders under the organisation, Uganda National Dairy Traders Association (UNDATA), and another 8,192 affiliate small scale milk traders, had been left out of the June 6 meeting. Rwamirama recently tabled before cabinet a proposal banning the sale of raw milk in the country.

The minister says his decision is dictated by the need to maintain hygiene but critics claim he wants to protect milk processors from raw milk traders. The raw milk dealers cite Amos Dairies in Kiruhura and Pearl Dairies in Mbarara as the processors Rwamirama is trying to protect.

Raw milk dealers recently went on a five-day strike to protest the move, as. Meanwhile, their association, UNDATA, petitioned the president, the prime minister and speaker of parliament. The Observer was unable to reach Rwamirama for a comment.

But the president's press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, confirmed that the Rwakitura meeting had taken place, although he couldn't discuss the details.

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