The government through the Centre for Support to Small and Medium Enterprises in Rwanda (CAPMER) has urged dairy sector stakeholders to consider investing in Ultra High Treatment milk production. This is because UHT milk has a longer life span, which could guarantee milk supply during dry seasons.
According to a study carried out by Innocent Rutamu and Frederick Mwangi, both Diary Consultants, the great advantage of UHT milk is its ability to transport it over long distances while being able to be stored at sales source without the need of expensive refrigeration.
UHT milk does not need refrigeration and can be stored at room temperature for about 6-9 months.
Rutamu explained that UHT milk production aligns well with the current state of Rwanda’s dairy sector characterised by limited infrastructure.
The study findings also indicate that there is surplus milk production in different parts of the country, during the wet season and scarcity in the dry season.
‘The first scenario puts dairy products at loss and the second makes milk too expensive for consumers, thus stagnating milk production and dairy sector development in general’, he added while presenting feasibility study findings of a project to set up UHT milk production units.
The representations were made last week during a validation workshop of studies carried out on the milk value chain in Rwanda.
The workshop organised by CAPMER attracted dairy sector stakeholders countrywide.
According to CAPMER, UHT milk production units would also reduce importation of milk, which deprives the country of its foreign exchange required for the development of other sectors.
Some of the imported UHT dairy products include Highland and VIVA milk from Uganda, and Skim milk from Kenya.
CAPMER is among the eight institutions, which were recently merged to form the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The study indicated that most parts of the country are infact fit to host the processing units especially within the Southern and Eastern provinces.
The findings however indicated that UHT milk processing in Rwanda might be obstructed by the high investment costs in machinery, technical maintenance and packaging materials.
The call comes at a time when CAPMER is also seeking to improve on the transportation and handling of milk countrywide in order to minimise milk losses and improve the quality of dairy products on the existing local market.
Pipien Hakizabera, the Director General of CAPMER said that poor transportation and handling contribute to the loss of milk produced locally.
Some of the facilities recommended for better handling include embracing widespread use of metallic cans and refrigerators.
This followed a study by CAPMER on the transportation of milk in Rwanda, which shows 77 percent of the milk produced is sold through Milk Collection Centres (MCC), 3 percent to processing plants, and 20 percent by vendors.
Seventy Four percent use plastic jerricans, only 23 use stainless steel cans, and 3 percent use both stainless cans and jerricans. The study also shows that about 30 litres of milk are sold everyday per farmer.
The report also estimates that a farmer earns on average Rwf12,000 per day or Rwf436,800 per month from milk sales. However the report says that poor transportation of milk brings about milk scarcity in some parts of the country with 30 percent of milk sold going bad while 97 percent is not refrigerated.
The agency’s endeavour is to help Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) owners to expand their interest in this industry which in turn can play an important role in the achievement of the country’s Vision 2020 strategies.
The methodology of the study conducted countrywide across 30 farmers focused on key milk producing districts such as Rwamagana, Rutsiro and Kamonyi.