A milk processing plant under construction in Nyabihu District is set for launch within the next three months, government officials have announced.
While touring the construction project on Friday, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, the minister for agriculture, said the plant would provide market to cattle breeders grouped in cooperatives in the area.
Located at Mukamira, the plant will process a variety of dairy products on completion.
The construction activities are at over 90 per cent, while 75 per cent of the equipment have been installed, according to the minister. The rest of activities are expected to be completed by July.
Mukamira Milk Plant has been under construction for years, with work dragging on reportedly due to technical faults.
Its total investment is Rwf5.6 billion, including the initial working capital of Rwf1.6 billion.
The plant will specialise in processing cheese but seven other products ranging from fresh pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cream, butter, skimmed milk, fermented milk and UHT milk will be processed.
Currently, only 10 per cent of milk is processed countrywide, according to officials.
“We have assessed the progress of the construction, installation of equipment and how the plant will operate and be managed. We expect to have installed all equipment by May, do tests in June and plan to launch it by July,” said Mukeshimana.
Farmers welcomed the development but appealed to government to upgrade the poor roads from fields of Gishwati milk basin to the collection centres so as to solve transport challenges.
Responding to the concerns, Mukeshimana said the issue of poor roads and electricity would be addressed.
She said the milk collection centres have generators, which would be connected to the national grid to cut the fuel cost.
There are around 20 milk collection centres, five of which are connected to the national grid.
The visiting officials comprised of plant management team.
District officials and Rwanda Cooperative Agency were tasked to assess the state of milk collection centres and other existing challenges to ensure the needed capacity of milk will be available once the plant starts work.
Once operational, the installed processing capacity will be 40,000 liters of milk per day for one shift.
The plant is jointly owned by government and farmers’ cooperatives; with 88 per cent and 12 per cent holding, respectively.
Gad Tegeri Gahiya, the chairperson of cattle breeders in Nyabihu District and the representative of Milk Collection Centres in the Western Province, said the plant would boost livestock farming.
“We are optimistic that our milk would fetch a good price. However, due to poor state of roads, farmers find it hard to take their milk to collection centres,” Gahiya said.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, urged farmers to hire a competent firm to do a business plan to help them operate in a productive manner.
He also urged them to ensure good quality and quantity of milk to feed the plant.