Statistics show that 82 per cent of milk in the country is consumed informally.
It means that only 18 per cent of milk reaches milk collection centres for processing and distribution to dairy industries.
In areas such as the Eastern Province, which owns over 40 per cent of the cattle in the country, informal milk vending is very common.
It is against this background that the new provincial governor, Judith Kazayire, has asked partners in dairy farming and farmers to respect government’s regulations which require farmers to take all milk to collection centres for eventual processing.
Speaking at a meeting with Heifer International that recently launched its operations in Kirehe and Kayonza districts, and dairy farmers, Kazayire said there was need to eliminate the culture of milk vending.
“It devalues our produce on the market and, on top of that, our people consume milk of less standard,” said Kazayire.
The law regulating milk production and supply stipulates that milk should be collected at milk collection centres, from where consumers can get it.
Charles Kayumba, the country director of Heifer International, said the NGO is willing to work with the government to meet the needs of communities as far as the sector is concerned.
“We are proud to partner with the government to change the mindset of our people in communities. People will know the importance of taking milk to collection centres when we make it profitable for those who take the milk there,” he said.
For the next 36 months, Heifer International will be partnering with dairy farmers in Kirehe and Kayonza districts, he said.
According to Kayumba, Heifer International will construct three dairy hubs in each district which will be a one-stop-centre for dairy farming products, farmers’ savings and necessities like tools and veterinary services.
“We appeal to all dairy farmers to plant grass from Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) so that their cattle can have consistent fodder to produce enough milk,” Kayumba added.
The two districts are part of the seven districts in the province known for being a hub for milk production in the country.