Cheese makers ask for support
Cheese producers have called on the government to help them access credit facilities to improve their product.
The call comes days after Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) ordered the removal of local cheese from the market due to poor processing and handling.
Speaking to The New Times, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Cheese Makers Company, the umbrella association of cheese makers in Rubavu District, Emmanuel Kageruka, said that various cheese producers in the area have failed to meet the required standards due to insufficient business investment.
“Lack of capital is one of the factors that lead to poor quality. For example a milk pasteuriser machine with a capacity of 1000 litres of milk costs about Rwf 14 million which is beyond our reach,” he said.
He said that it is high time government came up with mechanisms on how cheese makers can access loans from financial institutions saying it would improve the quality of their products.
Kageruka added that recently officials from RBS held a meeting with all cheese makers in Kanama sector where they were encouraged to improve on their hygiene.
“RBS stopped a group of 34 cheese makers in Kanama sector from making cheese and we need an urgent solution to this problem because are now stranded and don’t know how we will survive with our families,” he said.
RBS banned cheese products from Gishwati in Rubavu District, Western province and Byumba in Gicumbi District, Northern Province.
The Bureau’s Director of Quality Assurance, Philip Nzaire, clarified that the removal of local cheese from the market was a temporary decision, and that once they improve hygiene and processing facilities, they will resume production.
A cheese retailer in Gatsata sector, Gasabo District, said the decision by RBS to stop cheese makers has had an effect on the prices, noting that a kilogramme of cheese has increased from Rwf 3,000 to Rwf 3,500.
The Deputy Director General at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Dr Christine Kanyandekwe, said the board was working on a framework to improve the quality of cheese.
There is a need for a refresher course for all cheese makers in the country, and it’s in this regard that RAB has dispatched a team of experts who are now training them,” she said.