Challenges related to the quality of dairy products, together with other problems the sector faces in regional countries, will only be addressed through partnerships between the public and private sectors as well as farmers, the minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources has said.
Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana was speaking yesterday at the opening of the 12th African Dairy Conference and Exhibition at Kigali Convention Centre.
“I wish to invite the private sector to work with the public sector and other interested groups, including farmers, to implement sustainable quality improvement programmes across the entire dairy value chain,” she said.
She said Public-private partnerships (PPPs) were critical in transforming the sector.
According to the minister, farmers must also be incentivised to implement good practices to achieve improved quality.
The conference is co-organised by Eastern and Southern African Dairy Association (ESADA), Rwanda National Dairy Platform (RNDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
The conference and exhibition is being attended by delegates from over 30 countries, including dairy experts and researchers.
The main objective of the three-day meeting, that’s running under the theme “African Dairy; the future begins here,” is to highlight strategies to boost dairy production, quality, trade and market access.
Minister Mukeshimana said the forum “is a very strategic gathering of key players in the industry who will share experiences, knowledge, as well as exchange ideas to boost this strategic subsector.”
Referring to Rwanda’s case, Mukeshimana said that the Rwandan livestock subsector, in which diary industry is a major component, contributes 10 per cent of the entire output from agriculture.
“Over the past decade, there has been an increase in milk production as a result of good government programmes such as One- Cow-per-Poor Family (Gir’inka) as well as various efforts that have been directed toward genetic improvement of our cattle breeds,” said the minister, adding that development partners also played an important role in the development of dairy subsector.
Milk production in Rwanda increased from 50,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to 710,000 metric tonnes last year.
“This has not only had impact on poverty reduction programmes but also attracted investments into the dairy processing plants, as well as animal feeds processing plants,” she said, adding that the dairy industry is also a major contributor to food and nutrition security, and income generation.
Dr Theogene Rutagwenda, director general for Animal Resources at MINAGRI, said that Rwanda has a cattle population of about 1.4 million of which 54 per cent are cross breed, 40 per cent indigenous breed, and 6 pure breed.
Florence Musiime Umurungi, the chairperson of ESADA and head of Rwanda National Dairy Platform (RNDP), said that leaders within ESADA member countries have a responsibility to spearhead the growth of the sector.
“During our deliberations, we should set goals so that by 2020, we can celebrate Africa’s transformation. Please interact and share ideas on best practices that can make the dairy industry more competitive and sustainable.”
Richie Alford, director of research and impact at Send A Cow, an international organisation, said that there is a need to train and build capacity of dairy smallholder farmers so they can produce more milk and benefit from the sector.
According to Food Outlook Biannual Report on Global Food Markets, published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in June 2016, world milk production is forecast to grow by 1.6 per cent to 816 million tonnes in 2016, from 802.8 million tonnes this year.
However, the report warned that while milk yield is expected to expand in Europe, Asia and the Americas, it is anticipated to stagnate or decline in Africa and Oceania.
Umurungi said that at the event, 79 companies are exhibiting various technologies along the dairy value chain.
They are from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Netherlands, Ukraine, USA and United Arab Emirates, among others.