Dairy farmers in the South western region have received a sh21 billion grant to boost milk production in the region from Agribusiness Initiative Trust.
By Chris Mugasha
Dairy farmers in the South western region have received a sh21 billion grant to boost milk production in the region.
The funding from Agribusiness Initiative Trust (aBi Trust) is to be used to support 128 dairy farmers’ societies through Uganda Crane Creameries Cooperative Union (UCCCU) to implement a project dubbed cold chain.
It will enable the societies to acquire items which include; 100 milk coolers, 100 generators, milk testing kits, laboratory kits, 1500 milk cans, 10 insulated milk tanks and 4 refrigerated trucks.
The project was launched recently at UCCCU’s milk processing factory which is under construction in Ruti in Mbarara municipality.
Addressing representatives of dairy farmers, Henry Mutabazi the aBi Trust officer in-charge of dairy farming said the grant will save the dairy farmers from being exploited by the middle men.
“With this support, dairy farmers will be able to negotiate for higher prices. You will also sell to wherever you want to sell instead of being restricted by middlemen who have been giving you coolers with restrictions,” Mutabazi said.
Robert Rutehenda, the UCCCU mobilizing committee chairperson said the sale of Uganda Dairy Corporation left dairy farmers affected. He said to remain coordinated; they decided to start UCCCU to mobilize the dairy farmers to see how they can struggle to process their milk themselves.
The UCCCU general manager, Cryton Arinaitwe, said among other objectives of the project is to address issues of gender in the dairy industry. “Unless the youth and women are brought on board, the diary sector is doomed in future. We shall find ourselves with no milk which will make the sustainability of these milk factories a problem,” Arinaitwe warned.
Stephen Aikiriza, the Uganda Dairy Development Authority (UDDA) South Western region manager, decried the declining levels of milk production in the region saying despite the ministry of agriculture’s support to the dairy sector, milk production has remained low.
He said this is likely to affect the country since Western region supplies the country (especially the central region) biggest volumes of milk.
“We are wondering whether it’s the farmers who are withholding the milk,” Aikiriza noted. “You are moving at a slow pace and we don’t know why,” he said. He stressed that, “we pressed for a litre to be put at shs750=; so what do you want now and what is holding you?”
He however, said they are suspecting that the decline in milk production is because some farmers have sold off their dairy cows to venture into other farming activities and the increasing costs of drugs and other chemicals.
Other reasons hindering dairy farming include lack of the capacity amongst the farmers to maintain coolers while other dairy farmers have come up to start processing their milk themselves on farm.
Aikiriza’s comments come at a time where there has been a public outcry over the unregulated cross-boarder cattle trading with farmers selling off their good breeds. Other stakeholders in the Dairy industry said some youth prefer to sell off their share of land where they would have grazed cows to buy motorcycles to do boda-boda business.
According to Aikiriza, the demand for milk in the neighboring countries like Tanzania has also affected milk supply in the region.
Over 2000 litres of milk are collected on daily basis from Isingiro and Ntungamo districts before it crosses Mutukura, the Uganda-Tanzania boarder.
Some milk processing factories in the region now have to spend 3 days while collecting milk to be able to fire their machines.
DDA says it is unfortunate milk supply is dwindling at the time when the demand is shooting up especially in urban areas.
Aikiriza assured dairy farmers that DDA is trying to help them on the issue of competition through different interventions.
Dairy farmers get sh21b grant