Dairy farmers have been urged to improve farming practices in order to increase milk production and its quality.
There is concern that people working in the milk value chain such as breeders, producers and milk collection centers may lose employment if they fail to produce quality milk that can meet export standards.
While local consumption of milk has increased, dairy farmers still struggle to sell their milk due to poor quality and limited access to processing facilities. Figures by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources show milk production has increased from 700,267 tonnes in 2015 to 891,326 tons last year.
However, according to a recent report by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda 2021, milk exports dropped to 2,828,730 liters in 2021 from 17,514,192 liters in 2017. Dairy farmers lost approximately Rwf 16,592 million. It is against this backdrop that the government is encouraging dairy farmers to modernise the processes in order to improve quality.
In addition, farmers are also being trained how to cultivate and store grass for the drought season.
"The decline in milk and its by-products would have a significant impact on the development of the country. The value chain of the dairy products plays an important role in providing employment to many Rwandans and even foreigners working in it..." Said Dr Solange Uwituze, deputy director-general in charge of animal resources research and technology transfer at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).
Currently, the milk collection centers receive up to 483, 000 liters per day, and 254,000 liters processed in the 50 industries. The government is targeting to increase milk processing to at least 500,000 liters a day with a new factory being set up in the eastern province - Nyagatare.