Uganda?s poultry exports continue to suffer as Kenya maintains a ban it said it imposed over fear of avian flu. The Kenyan government says Ugandan exporting firms do not have adequate systems for reporting disease. It says the same is true of the legal framework governing disease control in Ugandan hatcheries.

But Ugandan poultry farmers accuse Kenya of taking advantage of that fear to cut back imports from Uganda. The Ugandan farmers say Kenya exports chickens freely to Uganda and the situation has led to a trade imbalance.

Aga Sekalala is the proprietor of Ugachick Poultry Breeders and chairman of the Poultry Association of Uganda. He told VOA English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that although avian flu is a threat, there hasn?t been a problem in Uganda. ?We have even put measures in place to ensure that our farms are clean.? He added, ?The only thing we can do in our farms in Uganda is to improve bio-security and make sure the farms are well protected, the workers are trained, and there is improved hygiene.?

Reacting to the ban on Ugandan poultry products to Kenya, Mr. Sekalala said Ugandan poultry farmers are loosing business. ?We have buyers in Kenya willing to buy our products. We should be sending chicks to Kenya weekly but the Kenyan government won?t allow it.? He continued, ?The Kenyan government has refused to let us export to Kenya, despite the fact that we have orders to the tune of about 20,000 chicks per week.?

Sekalala accused the Kenyan government of using the excuse of avian flu prevention to protect its market. ?It is not bird flu, really. They are just trying to control the market. Even before the bird flu threat we tried to export to them but they couldn?t let us,? he said.

He dismissed claims by Kenyan officials that Ugandan exporting firms do not have adequate systems for reporting disease, or that the legal framework governing disease control in Ugandan hatcheries is inadequate. ?They continue to import raw materials for making (chicken) feeds from Uganda. And they export their products to Uganda. I think they are bent on exploiting the market,? he added.

Sekalala also pointed out that Uganda?s poultry industry has been developing and said the only problem is the high cost of feed.