HomeBUSINESSDairy farmers encourage Ugandans to consume their milk to boost milk markets.

Dairy farmers encourage Ugandans to consume their milk to boost milk markets.

Joshua Nahamya

23 August 2021

Mbarara.

Cattle farmers in western Uganda have encouraged the government to direct mandatory milk consumption in a bid to increase milk prices.

This comes after a continuous height of slump in the prices of milk in Western Uganda most especially in the cattle collider areas.

This was revealed by James Ndibajuna, the chairperson of Abesigana Kashari Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd in Biharwe Mbarara during an exclusive interview over the weekend.

According to Ndibajuna, the dairy sector lost market especially during the 1st & 2nd wave of the covid19 pandemic and blocking the Ugandan milk from accessing the Kenyan market.

To solve this dairy market mayhem, Ndibajuna encouraged Ugandans to increase milk consumption to address lower milk prices.

With 1st wave, COVID19 experience Jomo Mugabe, a farmer in Nyakayojo Mbarara said a litter of milk dropped from 1000-300 shillings.

While Ndibajuna says that currently, a litter of milk in Mbarara town is between UGX 1000-1200.

He however says the amount is still low compared to what they invest in cattle.

“A litter of acaracides has never reduced it instead shoots high we even have to feed these animals very well but their products are bought cheaply that’s where the challenge is” Ndibajuna explains

Because of low milk prices, Ndibajuna says they have started producing yogurt to reconcile the milk prices in the area.

“To that effect, we have also started a yogurt plant at the dairy factory. However, we haven’t gotten UNBs certification but they are done with monitoring and we are still waiting for it because we cannot join the yoghurt market when we don’t have the certificate” Ndibajuna implied

Ndibajuna adds that the quality of milk is also killed by middlemen who add in the water while on the way to increase their/for quick profitability.

“A reason why we started this dairy factory way back in 1982 its because as farmers we found a problem of middle men who would buy milk direct from our farms but later dilute it with dirty water to maximize profits. We started with processors and later toa factory which is in existence to promote quality milk standards and also improve on milk prices to the farmer through the cooperative” explains the chairperson

He also says the standard of milk is being killed by cattle diseases such as FMD, East Coast Fever, lumpy skin disease, anthrax, lock cotter, and many others.

“Diseases are the hazards that beat the farmer and you find him not earning because such diseases can kill milking cattle and you end up losing like 100 litters of milk” explains Ndibajuna

Ndibajuna says Abesigana Kashari Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd is doing well but still challenged by low milk prices.

“We are working but the daily supply is more than the demand. We deliver like 5000 litters at the dairy but few litters are consumed meaning that the daily production with low demand is a bit complicated for consumption”. Chairman said

“Those who drink milk in Uganda are few and even in media you should go and encourage Ugandans to drink milk. Like in Biharwe town you will find people buying less than 100 litters from the dairy”. He adds

Ndibajuna says people with old age are barred by doctors from taking milk which affects milk consumption as well.

“When you clock 70 years, doctors advise you to drink diluted milk. And am my farm I milk 300 litters and doctors telling me not to drink milk yet my children moved away to do their jobs meaning that I will only consume 1 litter out of the 300 litters so whom will I give the remaining surplus? He asked

Ndibajuna encouraged the government to sensitize the public on milk consumption being a good food nutrient, especially for children.

“Milk consumption is still low but now we can start sensitizing people that milk is a whole food because when a children drinks milk, he/she would have taken ghee indirectly, receives fats, proteins and even calcium because milk hardens your children’s teeth”. He said

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Also, Kharm Kamuntu, Manager Uganda Crane Creameries Co-op Union (UCCCU), says the dairy sector in Uganda is still challenged by a lack of market which stresses farmers when it comes to input.

“Dairy faces issues of marketing where you find each farmer or primary co-op is bargaining for its own milk” Kamuntu emphasized

He, therefore, appealed to the government to implement milk consumption in schools to increase domestic consumption such that they can compete favorably.

“We hope with the school milk program having children taking milk in schools will develop the drinking culture which is being piloted by SNV and the ministry of education and health. We think if now children are taking milk in schools, they will demand for it when they go home and will grow up taking milk” Kamuntu explained

“Even right now the Kenyan drinking milk culture was started by Moi when he was introducing the school milk program so everyone now rather does not take lunch but takes milk because it’s a whole food”. He adds

Even our per capita stands around 60% whereby in a year a person takes milk at only around 60 liters yet world health organization recommends 200 litters per year per person but Kenyans are going to almost 120ltrs per person adds Kamuntu.

“Kenyans produce more than what we produce but they take milk in plenty because for them the milk-drinking culture is there but here you find even the cattle farmer is taking black tea while the whole milk from the farm is sold and you ask why do you produce what you don’t take? He asked

James Ndibajuna, Chairperson Abesigana Kasahri Dairy Farmers Co-op Society Ltd. By Joshua Nahamya

Kamuntu advised that milk dealers need to improve on processing, hygiene, and quality to make milk production available and affordable for Ugandans to consume.

“Right now, milk that we produce only 30% is formally processed and the 70% is consumed raw through the informal market but we have to make the community take safe milk rather than taking milk that is transported in jerry cans and adulterated,” says Kamuntu

He says that Uganda’s dairy sector is more export-oriented compared to what is sold locally

“You find almost all milk processors export is about 95% of what they produce and only a small percentage is sold locally which hampers market at some time. Like why even some milk factories in Uganda had to close for some time it’s because we were entirely relying on export market in Kenya” Kamuntu emphasized

Uganda Crane Creameries Co-op Union (UCCCU), was formed as a business arm of Uganda national dairy farmers’ association and western Uganda dairies operating in 12 districts of Mbarara, Bushenyi, Kiruhura, Ntungamo, Kabale, Isingiro, Lyantonde, Sembabule, Kazo, Ibanda, Kamwenge, and Rukungiri focused to develop sustainable business models to increase the supply of quality milk enabling UCCCU to process 250000 liters of milk per day.

It is a large cooperative seeking to expand and diversify its range of dairy products with a membership size of 140 primary cooperatives and a total of 18,306 members.

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