The production of milk across the different milk sheds is gradually picking up as farmers receive support from development partners and the Government.
The start of the rainy season mid this month was a relief to farmers who were finding it extremely difficult to feed cattle due to drought. Water and pasture are key ingredients in milk production.
The dry season started in Uganda in July 2021, leaving several farmers counting losses as they watched some of their animals die.
The long dry season partly caused the shortage in supply of some dairy products on the market amid a sharp spike in consumption, occasioned by easing of the lockdown.
“Currently, there is improved pasture production and productivity. Milk production has been rising,” Silver Turyahikayo, the head of milk procurement at Jesa Farm Diary, says.
Heifer International, with support from aBi Developments Limited and Jesa, has given out over 500 milk cans and 29 chaff cutters to smallholder farmers within cooperatives to improve milk handling and, consequently, quality.
The milk cans followed training on milk hygiene and handling which the project has been conducting.
“Our total milk production capacity has increased from 2.5 billion litres in 2018 to about 2.82 billion litres to date. The total installed capacity in mid-western, where the Accelerate Dairy Production and Productivity (ADAP) project is operating, is 197,800 litres, of which 150,700 litres installed capacity is currently directly linked and supplying Jesa,” he says.
The ADAP project will be implemented using a market facilitation approach with the aim of increasing dairy productivity, access to services and markets for 3,500 smallholder dairy farmers in seven districts, including Kayunga, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Mityana, Nakaseke, Nakasongola and Wakiso.
The project targets smallholder farmers to produce larger quantities of higher quality milk through better access to farm inputs, extension services, breeding services, feeds and fodder, skills and the adoption of technology.
To the livestock farmers, with the increasing climate change, there is need to adopt production enhancement and quality management practices to maximise revenue from dairy.
“It is important to note that during the last two years, COVID-19 market interruptions have diminished demand, increased spoilage, local market selling and raised prices for inputs,” John Ssenyonga, a director at Heifer International, says.
“These challenges are in addition to inaccessible extension and advisory services and non-tariff barriers for dairy exports. We appreciate government’s efforts through the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) to strengthen mechanisms for improving the quality of milk and milk products in Uganda.
“We hope the government will continue to prioritise and work with industry players to lay out strategies to overcome some of these barriers mentioned above,” he added.
According to the National Resistance Movement Manifesto for 2021 to 2026, the government plans to develop the capacity for pasture and rangeland improvement in the national milk sheds.
The global market for dairy products is worth about $718.9b. The government says it will improve Uganda’s share in the market by producing more milk and supporting farmers in value-addition.
“Uganda’s total milk production is expected to reach 3.2b litres this year,” Samson Akankiza, the head of technical services at DDA, says.
“We have access to milk today. We have 160 medium and large milk processing companies. We are producing 3.6m litres per day. We need more processing capacity, but also utilise more processing capacity that we have currently.
“We need to have more milk going through the processing facilities to ensure quality and safety of consumers,” he added. Each Ugandan is estimated to be consuming only 63 litres of milk per year, which is lower than the recommended 100 litres.
Kenya had been a key export market for Uganda’s milk until December 27, 2019, when the Nairobi government blocked dairy products, among others, citing poor quality.
Kenya and Uganda have over the last four years been locked in intermittent trade spats over tariff and non-tariff rules, prompting intervention of the respective ministers and sometimes heads of state.
“The non-tariif barriers on dairy exports have a negative effect, especially when we are expanding our markets. There is need for a more harmonised way of enhancing our regional market presence,” Turyahikayo says.