Rwanda produces more than 1.5 million litres of milk per day, but only 18 per cent of this is collected through milk collection centres (MCCs) and just 10 per cent is processed.
This was revealed by Dr Thèogene Rutagwenda, the director-general for animal resources at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
Rutagwenda made the remarks during a presentation at the 12th African Dairy Conference and Exhibition that was held from August 31 to September 2 at the Kigali Convention Centre.
He said the situation was due to shortage of collection centres and processing plants in the country, noting that dairy processing presents big investment opportunities.
Rutagwenda said there are 106 MCCs in the country constructed and equipped by the Government but are managed by farmers’ cooperatives.
Milk processing plants in the country also have low production capacities. For instance, Inyange Industries in Kigali has a capacity to process 70,000 litres of milk per day,
Presently, Inyange Industries in Nyagatare in Eastern Province processes 15,000 litres per day, Nyanza Industries in Southern Province processes 4,000 litres per day, Blessed Dairy in Gicumbi District processes 5,000 litres per day, and the Crystal Dairy in Bugesera District processes 3,000 litres per day.
“There is a big potential here for investment in milk collection, processing and marketing,” Rutagwenda said.
National dairy strategy
According to the National Dairy Strategy, local processors must adopt changes in quality, pricing and product diversification because most processors produce identical products.
Several dairy products are made from processing milk, including fermented milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter, ice-cream, milk powder, ghee, flavoured milk and sweetened milk.
The cost of a processing facility is $8.5 million (about Rwf670 million)
“We should diversify processed products. We need to get the maximum out of the milk once it reaches the processing plants,” Rutagwenda said, adding that there was also need to develop farmers’ skills in dairy technologies and value chain logistics for collecting milk from the countryside.
Dennis Karamuzi, chief of party of Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Programme II at Land O’Lakes International Development, said, in total, Rwanda produces about 1.5 million litres of milk daily.
“Inyange Industries takes a small portion of that. The sector needs process the rest of the milk not taken by Inyange,” Karamuzi said.
Shortage of MCCs results in more milk being sold through informal market and the shift to formal market through MCCs and milk processing plants will address even the issue of low prices, according to dairy sector players.
Beatrice Uwumukiza, the coordinator of Rwanda Agriculture and Livestock Inspection and Certification Services, said a ministerial order will soon take effect directing that the collection, transportation and selling of milk, must pass through MCCs.
She said the move would also address the issue of informal milk trade.
Two milk plants, Mukamira Dairy, with a capacity to process 40,000 litres per day in northwestern Rwanda, and Rusizi Dairy also able to process 10,000 litres of milk per day in Western Province, will also open soon, according to Dr Rutagwenda.