Milk dealers bicker over resale prices

Assembled milk cans

By URN

Masaka milk dealers are up in arms over the sharp variation in the market prices. A section of milk traders under the Masaka Milk Dealers Association have petitioned Masaka City council authorities to intervene and protect them from exploitation by unknown milk dealers that have infiltrated the market.   
Apparently, a final consumer in Masaka town now pays for a liter of milk between Shillings 1,000 and 1,600 at different dairies. However, the milk dealer’s association is protesting the Shillings 1,000 per liter arguing that it is ridiculous compared to the cost of production.

Moses Muliisa, the general secretary of the association has petitioned the city council authorities demanding that they take interest and set a standard price for milk resale for purposes of protecting the traders from highly exploitative distributors, whom they also accuse of compromising the quality of milk on the market.   

According to the petition, the market has been infiltrated by unlicensed middlemen who operate on streets leading to unfair competition with known dairy operators who pay trade license fees to the city council.  Muliisa accuses the new entrants of sneaking in milk from the areas under the Foot and Mouth Disease-FMD quarantine, which also increases the risk of spreading the virus. 

“It is unreasonable that someone can sell a liter of milk as low as 1,000 Shillings in such a dry season. This should raise suspicion about such dealers and where they get their milk moreover on large volumes,” the petition reads in part. 

Achilles Mawanda, the Deputy Mayor of Masaka City says that they have taken note of the concerns raised in the petition, saying they are going to engage the concerned parties to forge a way forward.

He indicates that although the City council may not have the authority to regulate milk prices, they have asked the responsible departments to ensure that all milk dealers formalize their operations in the area and conform to the standards.   

But Fred Kuhabwa, the latest milk distributor in Masaka town, whose mode of operation is under dispute, says that he will not be moved by threats by his business rivals. Kuhabwa described his detractors as bad traders who are afraid of competition, which is a normal aspect of the market in a liberalized economy.

“Neither the complainants nor the city council has the authority to regulate milk prices,customers ought to be left to have a variety of milk suppliers to choose from and they should note that we are fully registered with the regulatory body of the Uganda Dairy Development Authority-DDA, “ Kuhabwa said

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