Vulnerable families in Kigali will continue digging deeper into their pockets to afford milk as prices soar despite interventions by the Ministry of Trade. Gains made in curbing malnutrition in children could be reversed as families opt to quit milk, a significant source of nutrients.
At Alexandre Rugamba’s home in the Gitega sector in Kigali, say they used to buy two cartons of 12 liters of milk every month for their family of six. It was an important diet for their two children under five. They used to spend Rwf16,000 per month on two cartons of milk in April, the amount of money that cannot buy one carton of the same milk today.
At milk kiosks in Kigali where most families buy milk, one liter of unprocessed milk now costs Rwf800 from Rwf600 in July. That is if one is lucky to find milk. Some milk kiosks in small neighborhoods spend two to four days without any milk supply, Rwanda Today has learned.
Packaged milk on market shelves known as UHT Whole milk that Mr Rugamba’s family used to consume has more than doubled in price. A pack of one liter of milk used to cost Rwf1000, reached Rwf1600 by July and now costs Rwf2000 while half a liter of
the same milk reached Rwf800.
Mr Rugamba now buys a liter or two of milk per week for his children, He says his family might have to quit milk if the prices continue to rise. The prices continued to increase even when both the Ministry of Trade and Inyange Industries, a major supplier of processed and whole milk on the local market, announced official prices.
The actual prices on the market are almost twice the official prices announced by Inyange Industries. One liter pack of milk is supposed to cost Rwf1,150 but costs Rwf2,000.
Inyange Industries’ Deputy Director, Anita Umuhire told the media that the prices rise simply because the demand outweighs supply due to the dry season not due to the company’s tariff.
The Ministry of Trade’s official prices indicated that farmers would get Rwf300 per liter of milk as the minimum price at the milk collection centers which will then be sold to consumers at Rwf322. Milk processors will pay farmers Rwf342 per liter.
However, Rwanda Today learned that at a milk collection in Mwiri sector, Kayonza district, a farmer gets Rwf230 per liter Rwf70 short. Some farmers opt to sell milk to ordinary buyers at Rwf250-300 per liter.
“Some farmers just don’t have enough milk to supply to the milk collection at that price so they either consume it or sell it to ordinary consumers. We used to collect at least 10,000 liters per day before the dry season, but we now collect 2,000 liters maximum per day,” said Wilson Butare, executive secretary of Ruhabwa cell in Kayonza district.
Requests for comment at the Ministry of Trade and Industry proved futile by press time.
In November last year, nine businesses were fined a total of Rwf19.5 million by the Ministry of Trade for price fixing despite milk processors and the ministry maintaining wholesale prices.
The insufficient supply of milk that has been blamed on the dry season persists a month after Rwanda the rainy season began.