By Elias Hakizimana.
Research findings on livestock value chain issues have revealed a couple of challenges facing cow farmers’ cooperatives and milk business in Rwanda.
This research was conducted by National cooperative confederation of Rwanda (NCCR) in partnership with PSDAG, USAID project and the same analysis on value chain issues was conducted on maize and Irish potato farmers’ cooperatives in December 2018.
Although ‘Girinka Munyarwanda’ programme has played a big role in increasing milk production, livestock farmers still face high cost of production of milk to produce 1 little of milk.
“Generally, livestock farmers are still facing lack of water, quality and enough animal feeds, among others, said Augustin Katabarwa, Chairman of National Cooperatives Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR).
Katabarwa said that lack of affordable drugs and artificial insemination to some famers increases losses in milk production as a number of cows can die, while those who easily get artificial insemination benefit from an increase in a number of hybrid cows.
Milk quality, a critical issue
Gahiga Gashumba, the Chairman of Rwanda National Dairy Farmers‘ Federation said that the quality of milk depends on the discipline in treating milk along the whole value chain.
He explained that this discipline is based on the hygiene of milk, highlighting that farmers and all people who have contact with milk should be trained on better treatment and milk handling to ensure the quality of milk.
He said that poor quality leads milk to lack of market.
“Our key buyer is Inyange Industries and it takes only the grade one, but it is difficult for farmers to get grade one, because they are still using traditional ways to milk,” Gahiga said.
There are currently three grades [1,2,3] of milk. The grade 1 is better for milk processing for drinking. Grade 2 and 3 have other roles like in cheese processing factories,” he said.
“There are over 300 cow farmers’ cooperatives. Over 110 of them are based on milk collection centres (MCC), others are based on pastures and Girinka programme,” Gahiga said.
Nyagatare District in Eastern Province is among the top areas with high milk production as they supply over 62,000 litters every day and Gicumbi District with over 40,000 littlres. Milk price increased from Rwf 170 to Rwf 200 per little as Gahiga explained.
The district doubled milk produce comparing to previous years because of good weather and increased skills of farmers to store forage.
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