Ugandan farmers and traders dealing in poultry products have asked government to intervene and talk to their counterparts from Kenya in a bid to lift the ban on the products going to the Kenyan market.
Earlier this year, Kenyan banned the importation of poultry products including chicken and eggs from within and beyond East Africa saying it needed to protect and support its producers recover from the disruptions occasioned by the Covid pandemic.
Addressing journalists on Saturday, Ugandan traders under their umbrella body, the Poultry Association of Uganda said the "unfair" ban on Ugandan poultry products has had a big effect on them.
"Our markets have been closed and trucks impounded in Kenya. We need urgent help because we deal in perishable goods. Many of us are doing this as our source of livelihood but the ban has affected all this. We got loans from banks to inject in this business but because of the ban, people are going bankrupt and banks are taking their property," said Peter Ssenkungu, the Poultry Association of Uganda General Secretary.
According to the traders, having injected huge sums on money in the poultry business, the ban was announced by the Kenyan government but described the move as unfair and not done in the East African spirit.
"There are many people whose lives are holistically dependent on this sector. This has not only affected us the traders but also farmers because we support them by buying from them. You can't talk of the East African Federation when one country is stopping the importation of the others' products into its market."
Farmers hit harder
According to several poultry farmers, they have been hit the most by the ban since they have no one to buy their products.
"The biggest area of trade in Uganda is agriculture and to say the poultry industry. Kenya provides 70% of the market for our poultry products whereas only 20% is consumed locally and the rest is exported to South Sudan and DRC and by imposing a ban, we are at a total loss," said Charles Jagwe, a poultry farmer with over 80,000 birds.
"Many of us rear the birds with an expectation of getting income to sustain ourselves, take children to school and pay workers at the farms. This can no longer happen because the products are no longer being bought."
They said that a number of Ugandan trucks carrying poultry products have been impounded in Kenya and are fined up to shs 32 million per truck.
The group however castigated the Ministry of Trade officials whom they accused of sleeping on the job and enjoying in their offices are the citizens they are supposed to help are crying foul.
The group also noted they have engaged the Ministry of Agriculture for assistance but their efforts proved futile.
"The ministers are sleeping and everyone in the line ministries are asleep on the matter. For example, we have talked to the line ministries but have not got assistance. We ask government to intervene and expedite talks with their Kenyan counterparts so that the ban on poultry products is lifted."
Uganda has on several occasions been a victim of several trade blockades especially by Kenya which practices protectionist tendencies.
Kenya has on top of poultry products also banned beef, milk and maize from Uganda rendering her neighbor in the West to lose billions in foreign exchange.
However, on the other side, Uganda has never banned any country's products from entering its territory.
It remains to be seen how the impasse will be solved.