As a way of fighting malnutrition in the country, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, will next week commence national campaign for milk consumption.
The campaign will mainly target children below 5 years.
According to the statistics released during the recent second national nutritional summit by the Ministry of Health, 44 percent of children under the age of five are still affected by chronic malnutrition.
The results indicate that regional disparities exist in provinces, with the Northern and Western provinces recording a prevalence rate of 50.7 percent, and 49.9 percent, respectively.
Eastern Province registered a rate of 43.9 percent and Southern Province, 42.3 percent while Kigali City recorded 23.5percent.
In an interview with The New Times, Prof. Shem Martin Ndabikunze, the Director General, Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), said the institution is not only trying to fight malnutrition, bu is also focus on providing a market for milk.
He added that people to be targeted are children, vulnerable and pregnant women.
It is estimated that the country produces more than 1,800,000 litres of milk per day, up from 269,000 litres in 1999, and much of this increase originates from the Eastern Province, which produces 37 percent; while Western Province follows with 27 percent of the total quantity.
According to Ndabikunze, RAB intends to conduct house-to-house sensitization about balanced diets and emphasizing milk consumption.
Also planned is a Milk Drinking Day where each district will organize a weekly milk drinking day, with a particular attention to children.
The national Milk Drinking Week will be launched in the first week of June, and milk processors and communities will be mobilized to avail milk during the campaign.
The campaign, estimated to cost Rwf 107,800,000, is expected to be financed by the government and other stakeholders like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Elias Ntambara, a milk supplier in Nyamiyonga Sector, Nyagatare District, welcomed the move saying it will help solve the market problem.
“Lack of market for milk in our area has been a major challenge; if the government is devising new mechanisms that will provide us with a market, it’s a great move,” he noted.
Ntambara, one of the farmers who supply milk to Inyange Industries, further said there was need to increase the price of milk.
Inyange, the leading milk processor in the country, pays farmers Rwf150 per litre, processes it and sells it at Rwf 900.
Rwanda’s per capita milk consumption is estimated at just 30.9 litres, lower than in other regional countries such as Kenya (80 litres), Uganda (42 litres) and Tanzania 55 litres.
FAO recommends 200 litres per capita.
It is estimated that 10 percent of the population living in and around Kigali City consumes about 393,861 litres per day or 25 percent of the milk produced in the country.