AUGUST 29, 2009: Uganda Halts Food Exports

Government Stops Exportation of Food

SOURCE: Monitor

By Ismail Musa Ladu

Government has secretly halted food export to Southern Sudan in a knee-jerk response to tamp down criticism over the worsening famine in the countryside, Saturday Monitor can reveal.

Pundits, however, warn that the decision which has seen a freeze on cross border movement of cereals could potentially trigger a diplomatic ruckus with the struggling Government of South Sudan (GoSS) that Uganda helped install in power against resistance by Khartoum.

 A top official of Uganda Export Promotions Board, who asked not to be named owing to the sensitivity of the matter, said following directives from "above" government had decided to suspend food exports to stabilise stocks on local markets drained of consumables in the wake of drought that failed crop yields.

"I am aware export of agricultural produce to South Sudan has been stopped. It's an order from above," the official said on Thursday.

It is understood Ugandan bureaucrats, often scarred of administrative backlash, use the phrase "orders from above" to imply political supervisors.

Last week, a number of trucks ferrying Matooke and cereals to Juba via Oraba customs post in Koboko District were reportedly turned away as the informal ban began to bite, frustrating traders aiming to cash in big by selling their commodities to Sudanese citizens willing to pay as much.

"You can't leave your people back home to starve and you export food elsewhere," the Uganda government official said.

Vast parts of the country are experiencing famine - with several reported deaths - sparking emotional outburst against authorities in Kampala blamed for their lackluster response to the plight of hunger victims, especially in eastern and northern Uganda...

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