A six-year dairy development project has been launched amid concerns of value addition.
The Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP) was launched on Tuesday in Kigali by the Ministry of Agriculture, in a push to address challenges of diversification for dairy products.
The new initiative is expected to improve livelihoods of over 100,000 smallholder livestock farmers and open opportunities for other actors in the country’s dairy sector.
The launch follows the project agreement signed on November 4, 2016, between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Rwanda.
The project worth $65.1 million (about Rwf53.6bn) will cover 12 districts; three in each province.
The funding includes a $43.6 million IFAD loan, $1.1 million IFAD grant, $4 million grant from Heifer International and contributions from the government, the private sector and project beneficiaries.
The Chairperson of Rwanda National Dairy Platform (RNDP), Florence Musiime Umurungi, said their hope is to tap into Rwanda’s dairy value addition opportunities and product diversification to enable Rwandan farmers satisfy the local market, and increase dairy exports.
“As a person who is engaged in processing milk, our dreams have been answered,” she said. This six year project should end when our dairy sector is firm and productive enough,” she said.
IFAD representative and Country Director [for] East and Southern Africa, Pichon Francisco, said the programme will link farmers to market, promote value chain and build capacities of the private sector.
Increasing milk yield
Figures from Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) show that the current national cattle population is about 1.3 million.
The Minister for Agriculture, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, said the project would boost production and facilitate making of varied milk products.
Mukeshimana said efforts would be made to increase pure cattle breeds.
Figures from the ministry show that milk production in Rwanda was over 710,000 tonnes in 2015, with more than 90 percent of the milk being produced by cross and pure breeds.
“Any time you have a cow producing about two, three, five litres [per day], you will face production cost issues; but if you have a cow that produces about 30 litres per day, you will register profits,” Mukeshimana said.
A 2016 report by the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, livestock and environment showed that 32 milk collection centres it assessed in the country were collecting only 36,710 litres of milk per day, just under 30 per cent of their full operating capacity of 128,500 litres.
There are 101 milk collection centres countrywide, with capacity to process over 400,000 litres of milk per day.
Figures show that in 2016, Rwanda produced over 1.5 million litres of milk per day, but only 18 per cent of it went through milk collection centres while only 10 per cent was processed.
Farmers and dairy sector stakeholders are now optimistic that the new project will go a long way in addressing these issues.
Anthony Baguma, a dairy farmer and chairman of Nyagatare Dairy Farmers’ Union (NDFU), said: “There is a need to decentralise equipment to test milk and fat as well as avail quality feeds to farmers to be able to produce the needed quality of milk”: