MILK PROCESSORS say they are unable to get adequate quantities due to shortage of preservation facilities such as coolers needed to keep milk fresh for longer hours at rural-based collection centres.
As a result, most of the milk either gets spoilt and is poured or is bought by vendors who sell it to consumers unprocessed in a thriving informal market.
According to a leading milk processing company, this does not only reduce the amount of raw milk available for processing into various products, but also undercuts market for processed milk as consumers go for cheaper raw milk.
Kris Romeo Kabalira, the sales and marketing manager of Inyange Industries said that the company is not getting adequate volumes of milk and is therefore producing below capacity.
“Lack of adequate facilities to preserve milk such as coolers and generators at milk collection centres present challenges to us,” he said.
With the local market dominated by unprocessed milk, Kabalira said that processors rely on the export market. Quoting figures from the National Agricultural Export Board, Kabalira said that most of the processed milk and milk products are consumed by the export market that takes about 15,115 kg per year. Burundi, DR Cong, Tanzania are the main destinations for Rwanda’s milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese.
Exports are projected to bring in $20m per year by 2017, up from the current $18m.
Dennis Karamuzi, the deputy chief of Rwanda Diary Competitiveness Programme, said the main challenges faced by the dairy sector in the country “include the big informal market and lack of electricity in some collection centres.”
He said that the first phase of his programme focused on equipping centres with facilities to collect milk under hygienic conditions. “Our main focus now is finding market for dairy products,” Karamuzi said. He called for more efforts to create public awareness on why it is safer to consume processed milk.