By Markson Omagor
The government of Kenya has slapped a ban on maize imports from Uganda with immediate effect.
In a letter written by Harsama Kello, the Acting Director General of Agriculture and Food Authority (Kenya) and addressed to the Commissioner of Customs, Kenya Revenue Authority dated 5th March 2021, the maize imports have been banned because of having high levels of mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins especially aflatoxins and fumonisins are known to be carcinogenic. Kello further argues that the levels of mycotoxins are consistently beyond safety limits.
The Kenyan Authority claims that over a number of years, acute and chronic aflatoxin related illness cases have been recorded in Kenya including deaths.
“We wish to bring to your attention that Agriculture and Food Authority has stopped any further imports of the maize (from Uganda and Tanzania) with immediate effect,” the letter addressed to Kenya Revenue Authority reads in part.
The Authority however, expressed willingness to work closely with the two countries to address the concern.
According to Bank of Uganda, total exports to Kenya rose to USD 719 million in 2018 as compared to USD 551.06 million in 2017. The opening of the import window from East African countries such as Kenya is boosting the maize production in the country, thereby stimulating the market growth during the forecast period.
This is not the first time Kenya is stopping imports from Uganda.
Last year Kenya Anti-counterfeit Unit raided distributors in Meru in eastern Kenya and confiscated up to 23 tonnes of Ugandan milk.
The depot owner Pritpal Bhamra told reporters in Kenya that the raid was intended to block investors from doing business and called the raid “politically motivated.”
According to Kenyan media, the same unit had raided two warehouses belonging to one of the largest milk importers and distributors in Nairobi and took away tonnes of milk powder under the brand name Lato Milk.
Lato Milk is processed in Mbarara by Pearl Dairy and is one of the most popular brands in Kenya but the country has recently sought to reduce milk imports because of low prices local farmers there are facing.