The announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta that Kenya will be gifting Uganda with land in Naivasha to put up a dry port has left many unanswered questions. It came with another announcement that Uganda would increase sugar and eggs exports to Kenya.
Uhuru further added that with the inland port in Naivasha and planned extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), goods will be able to move from Mombasa to Malaba in just two days hence boosting international trade. The sugar deal was struck back in 2015 to end a diplomatic tiff after claims that Ugandan traders were importing sugar cheaply and repackaging for Kenyan markets.
According to the Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Uhuru’s deal will create problems and suffering for local Kenyan farmers. Kuria called for the country’s legislators to reexamine the East Africa Protocol so that the deal is reversed. Reports indicate that Kenya’s annual egg production stands at 1.6 billion while its annual consumption is 1.2 billion. This means that poultry farmers are stuck with more 400 million eggs every year.
One poultry farmer, Rachel Kuria, was quoted in the press saying that her profit margins have reduced from Sh50,000 to Sh40,000 per month before factoring in other costs such as medicines and chicken feeds. This is the more reason for regulating egg imports. It is important to encourage international trade, especially through the East African Community.
However, this should be monitored to stop smuggling and repackaging of commodities on transit. As President Museveni put it on Wednesday, the trade deal will also benefit Ugandan dairy industry and tile makers. It is also important that it benefits Kenyan farmers to create a win-win situation.
One of the major strategies that will allow our nation to take advantage of increased imports of agricultural produce from Uganda is embracing value addition through creation of industries that will help transform the imported raw materials into more meaningful produce. There is also an urgent need for entrepreneurial skill training for our small scale farmers.
Furthermore, our nation should take advantage of the tax on imports to generate revenue that will help transform many sectors of our nation. If this does not happen, then Uhuru’s deal with President Yoweri Museveni will only benefit Uganda.