By David Ssempijja
Members of the Uganda National Dairy Traders Association (UNDATA) have disagreed with Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for animal husbandry, over his recent pronouncements advising the public to refrain from taking fresh or raw milk.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee on agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries, Rwamirama advised consumers to only take packed milk because raw milk is contaminated with deadly preservatives which make it unfit for human consumption.
Justus Kabandize, the UNDATA chairman, says the minister should instead have called for strict and stronger regulations by the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) so that milk is handled in accordance with the set rules and regulations.
He said the minister’s statement would stifle the businesses of raw milk dealers, yet most of them are duly registered and certified by DDA. Kabandize added that packed milk only constitutes 20% of the milk locally consumed, yet it happens to be the most expensive.
Addressing the media in Makindye, a Kampala surburb, last week, Kabandize said the minister’s statement would also have a negative impact on the farming communities.
“We advise the public to identify DDA certified milk dealers and buy safe milk from them,” he said.
Kabandize added that the association has a self-regulatory mechanism that supplements the work of DDA in the quality control processes. Those individuals selling adulterated milk must be identified, punished, counselled and encouraged to join the association. This, according to UNDATA members would serve as a better alternative to the minister’s proposal.
Milk is handled through a cold chain process from the countryside to the destined market places especially urban centres; there are collection centres (coolers) near farmers from where its transported in milk grade insulated tanks and supplied to individual dealers or processors.
The whole chain is licensed, certified and monitored by DDA to ensure the process does not contravene the stipulated handling process.