Rwanda’s dairy sector has undergone several transformational mechanisms which have resulted into increased milk production, processing and trade.
However, with no legal instrument regulating milk collection, transport and selling in the country, the industry players have been experiencing various challenges which led to unfair market competition and production of substandard dairy products—milk specifically.
According to Rwanda’s State Minister for Agriculture, Tony Nsanganira, challenges in the milk industry pose a hindrance to improving milk quality and hygiene hence a need to have a legal instrument that would regulate sector players.
“The ministerial order comes to save life; it’s about order, and most importantly, about health. We want to produce milk that meets standards so that there are no issues of health to consumers.
And to a certain extent, unfair competition will be reduced, if not be eradicated. With these regulations, people will do fair milk business and also have standard products,” said Nsanganira.
A cabinet meeting this week approved the Ministerial Order on the preservation, collection, transport and selling of milk.
Nsanganira said that the Ministerial Order is aimed at supporting both small and medium industries in milk production to promote value addition across the country.
“Milk is traditionally an important product, Rwanda is a country known for promoting dairy farming and milk is promoted for nutritional business, needless to say, it’s business.
“Milk can improve lives and producers can be able to have surplus for the market. With this legal instrument, Dairy farmers and milk dealers are being challenged to embrace quality to boost profits and contribute to economic growth,” Nsanganira added.
Production of milk has continuously increased through the national one-cow-per -family flagship program which was introduced in 2007 and has since seen over 200,000 cows distributed to vulnerable families through this program.
According to the minister, the government has a target of having distributed 350,000 cows by 2017.
The country’s milk production is equally expected to increase by 2017 to a tune of 730,133 metric tons from the current 706,030 metric tons.
Nsanganira hopes that the new legal instrument will be good news to people involved in the milk business and positively affect the milk industry.
“If there are people who are gaining from selling substandard products, we will not worry much about those. We want to protect those who meet the standards and see how best the people involved in the business and the country at large can benefit more from this sector,” he reiterated.
Article 8 of the Ministerial order states that every milk aggregation centre shall have a qualified milk technician in charge of quality testing.
“All milk from aggregation centre shall have a certificate of origin issued by that correctional point,” the legal framework states in parts.
John Musemakweli, the Executive Director of Rwanda Dairy Platform, said the sector players have been informed of the new guidelines and are aware of the implementations modalities.
“I know that the move is aimed at improving the milk business and boost the industry. People are now working towards having all required modalities, provided in the ministerial order, in place,” he said.
The implementation of the new guidelines in milk business will gradually come into force, according to the minister.