Lack of market for milk produce, access to finance challenges, inadequate cooling infrastructure at milk collection centers, embezzlement and lack of skills continue to affect livestock farmers across the country, the union of livestock farmers has decried.
There are over 300 cooperatives with over 110 of them owned by milk collection centres (MCC) while others are owned by those supported under One Cow Per Family programme.
They have decried lack of market for their produce since milk processing factories do not receive all the supplied quantity of milk.
Companies that buy milk from farmers are often selective on quality of milk supplied to them. Courtesy.
The Chairman of Rwanda National Dairy Farmers’ Federation Gahiga Gashumba cited an example whereby livestock farmers in Nyagatare district supply at least 70,000 litres per day to milk processing factories but only 30,000 litres are received.
The milk processing factories categorise milk received into 1st, 2nd and 3rd categories and are currently only receiving the 1st grade.
Recently in Western province, factories also decided to stop receiving the 2nd grade which is about 17,000 litres of milk per day from farmers..
“Milk produce has increased over the years but there is an issue of getting the market. Nyagatare currently produces over 70,000 litres, Gicumbi District and surrounding districts collect over 100,000 litres per day while Gishwati zone produces almost the same quantity. But the factories cannot manage to process the whole amount blaming it on the poor quality,” he said.
Milk processing factories such as Inyange receive milk which meets at least 80 per cent of international standards yet a large section of Rwandan farmers are yet to get to such a level, he said.
“As an alternative, Milk collection centers and factories need facilities where each grade can be stored and processed separately. As opposed to only receiving the 1st grade, there is need for a way to pasteurize 2nd and 3rd grade,” he said.
Gashumba said the quality of milk is affected by different factors along the whole value chain.
Analysis showed that lack of improved feeder roads in rural areas affects the quality of milk during transportation.
It showed that most of milk collection centers do not have enough cooling infrastructure, some milk collection centers are not operating while substandard inputs and lack of animal feeds in some areas also affect the quality.
“Some valley dams have no water and they need to be rehabilitated so that cows access enough water to increase milk production and quality,” he said.
He added that there are boreholes of water powered by solar power and valley dams that should are currently being managed by livestock cooperatives to ensure consistent availability of water for cows.
The study also shows that livestock cooperatives have little knowledge on quality milk management, cooperatives management and challenges of access to finance.
A magnitude of the cooperative’s growth stagnation is related to bad governance, embezzlement, lack of linkage with market, absence of animal feed factories and capacity to do value addition on their own, said Augustin Katabarwa, Chairman of National Cooperatives Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR).
We found cases of where some livestock farmers get bank loans and fail to pay back due to such issues, he said.
Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry told parliament last week that milk production has increased from 152,511 tonnes in 2006 to 816,791 tonnes in 2017/2018 with the produce boosted by Girinka Programme under where 341,065 cows have so far been distributed to poor families since 2006.
Soraya Hakuziyaremye , the Minister of Trade and Industry explained that measures have been taken to link farmers with processing industries so as to avoid produce that is lost due to lack of value addition.
She said that the industrial policy is being reviewed and will be available by September to respond to the issues of the value chain and processing industries.
“We are also urging farmers and investors to invest in processing industries,” she said.
Figures show that industries operate below capacity at an estimated 50 per cent in Rwanda