Meat, a delicacy for most Ugandans, is becoming unaffordable, due to its soaring prices, Daily Monitor has established.

Traders have predicted that the prices will more than double in the coming months due to shortage of livestock, as consumers find solace in the once luxurious poultry meat.

The cattle shortage has pushed beef prices from Shs10,000 to Shs16,000 per kilogramme in several districts, including Tororo, Masaka, Arua, Kasese, Masindi, and Gulu.

In Kampala alone, meat prices range from between Shs14,000 and Shs20,000, depending on the location, up from last year’s Shs10,000. However, broilers cost about Shs8,000 and layers Shs12,000.

Traders have blamed the rising prices to Covid-19 related restrictions, exorbitant charges during transportation of the animals and the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), mostly in cattle corridor districts.

The corridor runs from Moroto and Kotido in North East through central Uganda to South West of Mubende, Masaka, Rakai and Mbarara.

In Kiboga District for instance, a kilo of beef has increased to Shs14,000, up from Shs10, 000 last year, while in the neighbouring Kyankwanzi District, it costs Shs13,000.

Mr Francis Ssewante, a meat seller at Bukwiri Trading Centre in Kyankwanzi, said they incur huge costs in transporting cattle, on top of other charges.

“The roads connecting to villages where we get the animals are bad. The vehicles we hire charge a lot of money, forcing us to increase the price,” he said.

Mr Richard Katende, the chairperson of Lyantonde Abattoir Association, said meat prices have gone up in the district due to multiple charges levied on animals and outbreak of FMD in the area.

“We pay fees to village chairpersons, parish and district plus inspection and transport charges, which are exorbitant,” Mr Katende said.

Mr Ronald Bameka, the Lyantonde District veterinary officer, said plans are underway to boost meat production.

“We are building Buyaga abattoir and more are coming, this will help to strengthen the meat business and offer fair prices to the consumers,” Mr Bameka said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) figures indicate that livestock production in the country contributes 7 per cent to 9 per cent of the total GDP.

According to the ministry, between 1991 and 2000, cattle population in Uganda increased from 5.1 to 6.1 million and in 2008, the cattle population was found to be 11.4 million.

In both Kyotera and Rakai districts, a kilo of beef goes for between 14,000 and Shs15,000, up from Shs12,000 four months ago.

Mr Geoffrey Kimera, a butcher in Kyotera Town blames the situation on quarantine restrictions imposed following the outbreak of FMD.

“Some of the butchers have closed because owners can no longer afford to purchase the animals for slaughter,” he said.

In Sembabule, Mr Trust Ahereza, a butcher owner in Sembabule Town, said the cattle movement ban slapped on some parts of the district following an outbreak of FMD is responsible for the rising prices. In the district currently, a kilo of goat meat sells at Shs15,000 while that of beef costs between Shs9,000 and Shs10,000.

“The prices are slightly higher due to quarantine but they are not static like other items. The meat prices keep fluctuating and we are now used to that,” he said.

He said meat prices have been increasing since 2018 from Shs4,000 to Shs6,000 per kilogramme, while by August 2020, a kilogramme was Shs8,000.

Mr Abdullah Bogere, the chairperson of Njeru Cattle Traders and Butchers Association in Buikwe District, said there are many factors contributing to high meat prices.

He said they spend Shs75,000 on transporting each cow from Teso Sub region while the movement permit costs Shs15, 000.

“In addition to that, we also pay trading licence, electricity and water. So, all these expenses incurred end up affecting the final price of the product,” he said.

A kilo of beef costs Shs16,000 while that without bones goes for Shs22,000.

In Kayunga District, a kilo of meat goes for Shs13,000 from Shs12, 000.

Mr Badru Batte, a cattle dealer, said the hike is a result of some cattle markets being under quarantine.

In Masaka, Mr Hamza Mwebe, the proprietor of Smart Butchery in Masaka City, said a kilogramme of meat costs Shs14,000 while offals cost Shs8,000.

He blames the increase in the price of meat on the restrictions imposed on cattle movements following outbreak of FMD in several cattle corridor districts.

“Some middlemen have hijacked this trade and they are the ones dictating the prices and we also have no option but to raise the cost of meat,” he added.

While prices in Kampala appear to be the highest, with some outlets selling a kilogramme at Shs20,000, in Busoga Sub-region, the price is relatively low.

Western uganda

In Kasese, a kilogramme of beef has increased from Shs12,000 to Shs14,000 and goat meat from Shs14,000 to Shs16,000.Mr Tofa Sarongo, a meat seller, said the rise was due to Covid-19 and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

In Ibanda, Sheema and Bushenyi districts, the price of a kilo of meat has increased from Shs12,000 to Shs14,000. Mr Isaac Ndibarema, a butcher in Ibanda Municipality, said their major source of animals for slaughter is Kiruhura and Kazo districts that are under total quarantine.

“For example, we used to buy a 280kg cow at between Shs2.3 million and Shs2.5 million but it’s now between Shs2.7 million and Shs2.9 million,” he said.

Mr Arafat Mwebe, a butcher at Markhan Singh market, said they have not increased prices because people cannot afford. “Even at Shs12, 000 per kilo, you can’t sell a whole cow in one day. What about if you increased the price? It would be worse,” he said.

In Kabale, the chairperson of Kabale Slaughter Houses And Butchers Association, Mr Anthony Muhangi, said a kilogramme of beef has increased from Shs11,000 to Shs13,000 while that of goat meat has increased from Shs13,000 to Shs15,000.

“This is because of the increased prices of goats and cows in the region due to outbreak of FMD in the cattle corridor districts,” he said.

He added that they used to buy a 100kg cow at Shs950,000 but now the price has increased to Shs1.2m.

Other districts

In the districts of Iganga, Mayuge, Kamuli and Jinja, a kilogramme of beef costs Shs13,000 on average.

In Busia, the price for the meat has risen from Shs12,000 to Shs14,000 in the last two months, according to Mr Alfred Okware, a meat seller, on Tira Road in Busia Town.

Mr Joseph Wesonga from Busia abattoir said the closure of cattle markets in Moroto, Kotido, Kabong, and Nakapiripirit districts, where they used to buy animals cheaply, made them to resort to markets in Katakwi, Lira, Obalang, Amuria, Bukedea, and Kaberamaido where animal prices are high.

“A cow from Karamoja weighing between 100 and 200kgs sold for between Shs1m and Shs2m, while a cow weighing the same kilogrammes in Lira and its neighbouring districts goes for between Shs1.4m and Shs3m,” he said.

Mr Wesonga said the Covid-19 restrictions on cattle movement partly led to the increase in prices of meat.

“Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 we were spending less than Shs40,000 to travel to Lira and the nearby districts; but the transport costs have risen to Shs70,000,” he said.

In Jinja City, Mr Hamza Gidudu, who operates Biashara Butchery on Rippon Road, said the emergence of a minced meat processing plant in the country has created a scarcity of animals.

“There are currently not enough animals to sustain the beef processing plant, which has created scarcity of animals,” he said.

In Namutumba District, Mr Mukuba Steven, the secretary of butcheries in Namutumba Town Council, said the animal quarantine, which was slapped on the area in 2017, has contributed to the high price of beef.

“Since 2017, we buy bulls for slaughtering from the Teso Sub-region at high cost, with truck drivers overcharging us,” he said.

Mr Sula Musenze, another butcher, said the price of meat is expected to increase as we approach Idd, adding that currently, a kilogramme of meat goes for Shs13,000, up from Shs12,000.

In Lira, the prices of goat’s meat and beef have not changed since last year, with a kilo of beef and goat’s meat remaining at Shs12,000 and Shs14,000, respectively.

But in West Nile, the rise in price of meat has been attributed to many factors, ranging from low supply and high demand.

In Arua, the price of meat increased from Shs12,000 to Shs15,000, starting January this year.

Ms Yesco Juliet, a resident of Awindiri Ward in Arua City, said: “I have stopped eating meat because it is expensive for my large family of eight people. I prefer to eat beans and other greens and sometimes fish, which I can afford.”

Dr Neckyon Matinda, the Yumbe District veterinary officer, said about two years ago, a kilogramme of meat cost between Shs8,000 and Shs10,000 but now costs Shs13,000 and Shs14,000 for the beef and goat meat, respectively.

“There is scarcity of pasture as most of the land in Yumbe has been cleared for agriculture. This has made people incur a lot of costs in looking after the animals, resulting into the increase in their prices hence the increase in price of meat,” he said.

He said Yumbe livestock market is one of the biggest markets in the region.

A goat and cow cost about Shs300,000 and Shs1.8 million, respectively.

Mr Nasur Juma, a meat seller, said the demand is low due to poverty.

“The market for meat here is very low due to biting poverty. We attempted to increase the price of a kilogramme of meat to Shs13,000 but customers reduced,” he said.

Another meat dealer, Mr Asraf Asea, said numerous taxes imposed on them have also made matters worse.

In Moyo District, a kilogramme of meat costs Shs15,000, up from Shs12,000.

In Gulu, Mr Francis Olak, a meat seller at Lacor Trading Centre, said the increasing meat prices is due to the growing demand for livestock in the neighbouring DRC and South Sudan.

Goat meat costs between Shs14,000 and Shs16,000 while beef goes for between Shs12, 000 and Shs14,000.

“The big demand by traders from DRC and South Sudan has created scarcity. We mostly go as far as Karamoja or far East Acholi in Agago and Kitgum districts to buy the animals,” Mr Olak said.

Mr Christopher Oruka, a member and secretary of Gulu Livestock and Butchers Association, said meat prices could increase to Shs20,000 in the coming months.

He attributed to soaring prices to decreasing livestock population in the region and the high demand for beef in South Sudan.

“In 2015, one could go to the market with Shs10 million and return with more than 13 head of cattle but today with the same amount of money, you buy less than seven head of cattle,” Mr Oruka said.

In Tororo, beef has gone up from Shs12,000 to Shs14,000. Hajj Ismail Okello, the chairperson of Tororo cattle traders, said they increased the meat price due to transport costs.

“We buy most of the animals from western Uganda and Teso, and transport costs are high and other taxes,” he said.

Mr Peter Ajeko, the chairperson of Malaba cattle traders, said consumption of meat currently is too low.

“We initially used to slaughter more than 10 cows in a day but currently, we slaughter five cows,” he said.

Ms Margaret Nyachwo, who operates a hotel on Tororo-Mbale road, said majority of their customers have opted for beans as their sauce.

In Mbale, Mr Andrew Musika, a livestock trader, said prices are likely to double in the coming months.

“We expect the price to go high because animals are also scarce in the places where we used to buy them,” he said.

Currently, a kilo of beef goes for Shs12,000 from Shs10,000 and goat meat goes for Shs16,000, up from Shs14,000.

Mr Muhammad Kusubi, a meat seller in Kikindu market, said they used to buy 100kg of meat at Shs800,000 but now they buy it at Shs1.2 million.

“We also pay a lot of taxes imposed by the government and local councils, so we have to hike the price to stay in business,” he said.