Kenya: President Ruto Says Milk Powder Import Ban Meant to Protect Local Dairy Industry

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President William Ruto said last night that his administration had to suspend milk importation from neighboring nations to protect the local dairy industry.

In an interview, the Head of State said that some well-connected individuals had taken advantage of East African Community (EAC) trade relations to import milk from other countries and then ‘sneak’ it into Kenya.

He added that such practices cannot be allowed in Kenya as they negatively impact the local farmers.

“We closed down the operation because there is no way a company operating in Kenya can get milk from foreign countries, process it then sell it and the local farmer is not paid his dues. We cannot allow that,” President Ruto said.

He, however, indicated that there are ongoing talks with EAC countries to ensure fair trade across the region.

“We sat with our neighbors and told them that we respect the EAC regulations, but we must have an understanding that the milk should be from your farms,” Ruto added.

On March 6, 2023, the Kenya Dairy Board suspended the importation of milk powders from outside to protect local processors and farmers from oversupply in the market.

It came at a time when the country was gearing up for the long rainy season between March and May, when milk supply is high.

“Take note that the importation of products under the East African Community (EAC) protocol refers to good being imported from outside the East African Community, while good traded within the EAC are referred to as transfers,” Agriculture and Livestock Development Permanent Secretary Harry Kimtai said in March this year.

Kenya has been the leading buyer of Uganda’s milk products, although trade relations have not been good due to several barriers, prompting Uganda to search for new markets for its milk and milk products.