Milk has the potential to generate wealth. Countries like Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland have proved that white gold is milked from a cow. It can be consumed as milk but also a key ingredient in the confectionery, chocolate and multiple industries.
The dairy cows do not complain about humans stealing what is meant for their calves. They simply continue giving more. In the developed world, milking is done more by machines than hand, contributing greatly to the quality and quantity produced.
A high-end protein product, casein, is extracted from milk for lucrative markets. You have probably heard President Yoweri Museveni talk about the value of casein protein exported to the United States by Amos Dairies Limited in Mbarara.
So, the next time you see milk, it is not just milk, it is a product that can transform our society. According to the Dairy Development Authority (DDA), milk production is estimated to have increased from 2.08 billion litres in 2015 to 2.6 billion litres in 2020.
By the end of 2021, milk production was estimated to have reached 2.8billion short of the target of 3 billion litres.
The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions distorted the dairy value chain and interrupted milk production systems at the farm level. Furthermore, a prolonged dry spell in the northern and north-east milk sheds reduced natural pastures and water for livestock. Increasing milk production is one of the main goals of Uganda’s agro-industrialisation programme.
The DDA five-year strategic plan is targeting the entire chain and not just the end product. To produce good quality and quantity of milk, one must get the foundation right. According to DDA’s annual report 2020/2021, promotion of improved feed production solely on rainfall.
Sustainable milk production for export requires planning. Dairy exports in the country reached a record high of sh358.6b over the last four years.
This averages sh90b per year, equivalent to $25m. Dairy exports found market in the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa countries, Southern African Development Community, and conservation, extensive training of stakeholders in good dairy farming practices, increased adoption of dairy farming as a business by Government and increased private sector investments will be a game changer.
High quality milk production has the right boxes ticked before actual production commences. Over-reliance on natural pasture is not dependent United Arab Emirates (UAE), Syria, Japan, Oman, USA, Nepal and Bangladesh.
This is just a fraction of Uganda’s potential. Improved human resource capabilities in the dairy sector, in addition to value-addition, will open opportunities. Doctors recommend yoghurt for good gastro-intestinal health.
Yoghurt naturally contains lots of probiotic cultures that strengthen the digestive tract with good bacteria. Gut health is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Imported dairy products clocked sh12b ($3.4m) in 2021. These include; milk cream, butter, cheese and yoghurt. The top countries of origin of these milk products are UAE, Oman, Ethiopia, Kenya, Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom, France and Germany. Low milk prices due to a glut in supply, especially in south-western Uganda, is a challenge.
The low farm gate price offered to farmers, especially during the peak season, is in relation to the increasing prices of imported inputs.
These include veterinary drugs and acaricides, creating a big source of instability in milk supply in the southwestern region, according to DDA.
Milk per capita consumption in Uganda has significantly improved due to increased population, now standing at 62 litres per year. The World Health Organisation recommends 200 litres a year.
Start milking today.
The writer is an export trade specialist