By Stephen Nuwagira
Dairy stakeholders in Ibanda district have called on the sector watchdog to institute stringent measures to fight illegal practices that affect the quality of milk.
The stakeholders noted that milk adulteration is rife because dealers abet the illegality by buying low-quality milk.
“When you reject milk over quality issues, another dealer will buy it, at even a higher price. So, we need stringent measures to stamp out the practice to safeguard the sector,” said Ibanda town-based bulk milk buyer, George Mutara.
Mutara was speaking during a dairy sector training workshop on milk quality, dairy standards and regulations, conducted by the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) southwestern regional office on Tuesday.
The sensitisation workshop, held at the district council hall, attracted farmers, milk retailers, bulk buyers, suppliers, dairy cooperatives and extension workers.
Mutara also suggested that the authority sets up roadblocks across the region and our away any milk found to be substandard as one of the measures to stop the illegalities.
“If you block the routes within the region for two days and pour a tankful of milk that doesn’t meet quality standards, they will think twice before accepting adulterated milk,” he said.
Patricia Bigira called for more support to farmers and dairy co-operatives by recommending to them suppliers with genuine milk testing equipment and chemicals.
The southwestern region accounts for about 45% of the country’s total milk production, making it the biggest milk producer in Uganda, according to DDA.
Milk hygiene Peninnah Natumanya, the DDA southwestern region dairy inspector, said milk quality is affected mainly through poor handling.
She pointed out that milk hygiene can be compromised by dirty cow udder, dung, dust and herders that milk without washing hands and containers.
Dennis Atuha, a dairy inspector at DDA, said research done by the authority in the region found that milk quality was good at the farm but it got contaminated on the way to collection centres.
Dr Hillary Arinaitwe, the district veterinary officer, said farmers need to look after cattle well in order to boost milk production and quality.
Other practices that affect milk quality
- Some farmers scoop off the cream
- Using plastic containers while transporting milk.
- Handling milk without undergoing the recommended health checkup l Keeping milk in dirty places
- Milking injected cows and those that have been given antibiotics
- Milking cows suffering from mastitis
Not all is lost
Despite these challenges and others still plaguing the sector, Dr Arinaitwe said Uganda’s milk is on demand because it is organic, since most cattle are fed on natural pastures.