Poultry producers in Uganda are losing billions of shillings as Brazilian poultry imports flood the market, according to investigations.
Uganda’s Daily newspaper, New Vision, investigated that between July 1 and December 3, 2011, one company Fresh Cuts (U) Ltd alone imported 725 tonnes of frozen chicken. This means that if Ugandan farmers had supplied these one million birds they would have earned sh5.7b from the sales.
Chicken for export in Brazil is sold in 22 or 24 tonnes. According to online prices, a kilogramme of poultry meat before payment of transport and taxes (FOB) costs $2.10 (sh5200) meaning that the 725 tons imported by Fresh Cuts cost $1.522m (sh2.24b). The landed cost (C&F Kampala) would be approximately $1.848m (sh4.58b). When contacted, Uganda Revenue Authority confirmed that the main importers of frozen chicken were Fresh Cuts and Your Choice Ltd while American Embassy imports in small quantities for domestic consumption.
New Vision also established that although some companies advertise that their poultry products as 100% Ugandan, the reality is that some poultry meat is imported and re-packaged in Uganda, leading to loss of revenue to farmers. The Animal Diseases Act imposes a fine of sh2m or imprisonment of two years or both for illegal imports including loss of the product imported. Only hatching eggs and day old chicks are permitted to increase poultry production in the country.
Acting Chairman of the Poultry Association of Uganda Aga Sekalala junior stated, “It is very unfortunate that this has been allowed to happen, because it is a risk to the food security of the country. To wake up in the morning and we are dependent on poultry imports would be a disaster.”
He said the imports had already caused a slowdown in the regular growth of the poultry sector. “We appeal to the government to re-affirm the policy and ensure long term development of the poultry industry. He also called for a higher tax on poultry imports saying, “If the imports continue, they may wipe out our industry.”
In the 2005/06 financial year, the government passed a policy that stopped importation of any meat products into the country. This was to guard against the risk of the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that occurred in many countries in Asia, Europe and Africa since 2003. However special permits were allocated to institutions such as Diplomatic missions and agencies for unique meat products which could not be secured from Uganda.
Dr. Chris Rutebarika, the Assistant Commissioner Disease Control in the Agriculture ministry explained that the ban was partially lifted to allow importation from countries without the Avian Influenza outbreak. He however warned that importation of poultry products would kill the local industries involved in poultry production.
Source: New Vision