HomeBUSINESSUganda taps Zambia for dairy exports.

Uganda taps Zambia for dairy exports.

Joshua Nahamya,


Through Pearl Dairy in Mbarara, Uganda has tapped a new milk market in Zambia despite a long-standing impasse with Kenya about exporting powdered milk.

While unavailing the new market on Friday, Pearl Dairy flagged off 50 tons of powdered milk to Zambia.

During the launch, Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), thanked pearl dairy for having a high standard investment contributing towards the development of the dairy value chain.

“I want to congratulate you on this breakthrough in opening a new market. I congratulate you for your consistence in quality standards. Whoever says they cannot take Ugandan milk because it has quality issues is either speaking out of ignorance or being malicious. “

“I think this powdered milk requires some higher level because the people we saw in the Dubai expo were not dealing in powdered milk. We must really thank you for loving our country, because you could have taken this investment elsewhere, “the Agriculture Minister added.

He also applauded Zambia and Coca-Cola for the policy of supporting African products.

Loading of powdered milk to Zambia at the factory facility in Biharwe Mbarara

With such new milk markets, Tumwebaze says dairy farming will gain more momentum, enticing farmers to increase production capacities to satisfy the export market.

“Farmers used to fight with the buyers, but the price is not determined by the General Manager of Pearl Diary, and if Pearl Dairy has more markets, it will definitely buy more milk from you. If you have more orders from Zambia and Botswana, why don’t you buy more milk? The more it sells, the more it turns over, and the higher the margin.

Minister Tumwebaze condemned international companies rejecting Uganda’s milk without carrying out tastes and research.

“There is no rocket science here. If you doubt the quality of our milk, come and taste it. Then be expectant, because standards are not unique to a country, they are universal. So, I want to appeal to Ugandans, especially you, the media and the elite, who would like to spread wrong propaganda online and elsewhere. You are doing us a disservice, “the minister reacted.

Tumwebaze cautioned farmers and processors to build their farms, factories, and companies on a value chain approach in order to sustain the product market.

“The value chain helps the farmer to be sensitive to what the market requires, and at MAAIF, we want to follow the value chain flow. If it’s beef, which is still one of the undeveloped value chains, how do we prepare our cow expo beef for the international market?

The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Gen David Kajura Kyomukama, also emphasised that the issue of agriculture in Uganda is an issue of production and productivity, post-harvest handling, marketing, pasteurisation, and adding value to industrialisation.

Pearl Dairy Directors unavailing new milk market as tracks pack to Zambia. Joshua Nahamya

“All of them are linked because without a market, people are producing for nothing because the price will go down. And if you don’t have consistency in what you produce in a factory like this one, you don’t have quality and standards, you will not have access to the market because the world is now very deep into food safety and quality standards, which is one of our ethical issues in the ministry now, “Kyomukama advised.

“DDA, if the farmers are compromising the quality, don’t allow the farmers to quarrel with the processors, just come in and check the source of the milk so that we all support the value chain and support our country, because if the quality of our milk from the farms was substandard, then you wouldn’t be buying it.” Frank Tumwebaze added,

I am actually told you need more milk, so we need to mobilize farmers, but MAAIF, RCCs, farmers must continue to invest in farm value addition through the primary processes. Tumwebaze is adamant.

As far as trade issues are concerned, we hope bilaterally and in the spirit of East African corporations, we will get the way forward as far as a win-win trade between Kenya and Uganda is concerned, as Tumwebaze explained.

The Resident City Commissioner (RCC) of Mbarara appreciated Pearl Dairy as a leading factory in creating employment opportunities for the people of the Western region.

“I remember one time when they closed them from taking their products to Kenya. They took some days without operating and the whole Western region was crying. So, when you are helping Pearl Dairy, you are indirectly helping a farmer also to get money, “says Mwesigye.

Lord Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi appealed to the government to improve the quality of acaracides, which has become a public issue among farmers to fight tick-borne diseases in the region.

“I am sure our milk standards will increase, but I request the government to improve the quality of drugs which farmers use, especially those used to fight ticks, so that our farmers can stop suffering unnecessary expenditures on drugs.” says Kakyebezi.

Bijoy Varghese, the General Manager of Pearl Diaries, the first to supply milk products to the new market, said the factory consumes 800,000 litres of milk daily collected from 100,000 farmers from the Ankole Cattle corridor.

Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd is a milk processing company located in Biharwe, a neighbourhood along the Masaka-Mbarara Road.

The dairy factory is one of Uganda’s top milk processors in Uganda built on 15 acres (6.1 ha) with capacity to process over 800,000 litres of milk daily for the last 9 years.

It processes Lato Milk and its branded products such as flavoured milk yoghurt, ghee, powdered milk, UHT milk, butter and flavoured milk as the four leading export products for the dairy company in Uganda.

The dairy factory has invested heavily in its state-of-the-art processing plant that exports its products to over 20 countries, including Japan, Nepal, the UAE, Egypt, Oman, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, among others.

“We produce world class quality products that conform to both the local and international market standards. And within the last 2 years, we have expanded our reach to Malawi, Ethiopia, and Burundi. ” Varghese explained it all.

According to statistics from the Dairy Development Authority, milk production in the country has increased from 2.5 billion litres in 2018 to 2.8 billion litres in 2020, and dairy exports have increased to over 341 billion shillings in the last four years.



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