Without enough grass for cattle graze on and scarce water for cows to drink, milk production has dipped.
Reports from farmers in Eastern Province say, a cow that used to produce between 1.5 to 2 litres during the rainy season currently produces a quarter litre.
Dr Theogene Rutagwenda, the Director General of Rwanda Animal Resource Development Agency (RARDA) said the quantity of milk a cow produces depends heavily on the amount of feeds and water it takes.
“During the dry season the cow has little to eat, therefore it is difficult to get enough milk,” he added.
However, whereas the country has been experiencing dry weather conditions from May, weather experts warn that heavy rains are expected in September.
Milk production drop
Information from Umutara Dairy Marketing Cooperative (UDAMACO), a leading milk marketing cooperative in Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Kayonza districts indicates that with the drought, members can only supply 18,500 litres a month, a drop from 20,000 litres of milk the cooperative used to collect monthly.
James Kagoro, a businessman in Nyagatare says the shortage in milk supply has pushed the prices to an all time high.
A mini survey curried out in Nyagatare restaurants and dairies indicates that a cup of milk that used to cost Frw100 now is at between Frw150 to Frw200.
The glass of milk that used to cost Frw150 to Frw200 has increased to between Frw250 to Frw300.
Jane Mbabazi, a restaurant proprietor said they were forced to increase the prices because diaries have also hiked costs.
She said a litre increased from Frw200 to Frw250.
“You can now see how expensive it is to buy a litre of milk? So to keep in business, we have to increase the prices too”, Mbabazi said.
Fred Muhire, the UDAMACO Manager said milk is scarce.
“Our cooperatives used to buy milk from farmers at Frw180 per litre but now we buy a litre at Frw200,” Muhire said.
The price increase has forced some consumers to source cheaper suppliers of milk by preferring buying from door-to-door vendors—abacunda. But Udamaco calls the abacunda ‘illegal milk sellers who sabotaging the government policy of joining cooperatives.”
However, Maria Murungi, a restaurant proprietor in Nyagatare town said that she prefers buying milk from door-to-door sellers to dairies, because the abacunda sell at low price compared.
“Abacunda sell a litre of milk at Frw200 while dairies sell at Frw250. Frw50 is big to a business person.
“I gave up with those people (abacunda). One day I bought milk from them and found out that add a lot of water in it.
And this can’t work with us who make yoghurt”, Flavia Batamuriza, a yoghurt seller in Shirinyota restaurant.