Over the last four years, Uganda’s dairy exports hit a record Shs358b, an indication that dairy farmers are gradually emracing the money economy. During the period, some dairy farmer groups’ invested in bulk cooling facilities to enhance milk storage and subsequent value addition by processors.
Stephen Muvuny, a dairy farmer in Nakaseke District, is part of the nearly 3,500 smallholder farmers who benefited from a three-year program to boost his dairy production and productivity. Muvuny and others were taught how to practice modern dairy farming amid an unpredictable weather pattern. “As farmers, we are not so sure about the weather anymore. But we have been taught how to improve production. I used to get only five litres of milk per cow but now I receive 10 litres from each cow per day,” Muvuny says.
Fodder processing machines
Through a grant matching arrangement with partners including Heifer International, Jesa Dairies and aBi Development, the dairy farmers groups from different milk sheds have received at least 25 fodder processing machines to improve their production and productivity.
The fodder processing machine will help the farmers create higher quality livestock feeds for both milk and meat production at a relatively low cost. The net business income earned by fodder (silage) is projected to grow to Shs840m in the next three years.
Other equipment given to dairy farmers include; cottage industry equipment to support yoghurt production and marketing, three sets of artificial insemination kits, freezers, sealers, milk cans among others. Geoffrey Okidi, the acting operations officer at aBi noted that between 2014 and 2020, they have financed more than 210 matching grant projects with a total value of around of Shs407.9b in Uganda, impacting more than 1.1 million farmers.
“Our funding to dairy value chain has created employment, increased net income at the enterprise level, and increased volumes of milk collected, translating into increased incomes of dairy farmers,” he said. “All this success has been due to investments in the purchase and installation of more than 160 state-of-art milk coolers and other accessories and 10 road tankers, particularly in south western Uganda,” he adds.
The accelerated dairy production and productivity project by the development partners aimed at improving access to business development services, promoting climate smart agriculture, increasing utilization of processors installed capacity among others. “The dairy value is still faced with a number of challenges key to which is high cost of production at farm level brought about by poor quality inputs, farm-gate price fluctuation, lack of information among farmers, inaccessible extension and advisory services, non- tariff barriers for dairy exports among others,” said William Matovu, country director at Heifer International.
“We hope that government can get on the table with industry players to lay out strategies to overcome some of these barriers,” he says.
Over the years, the government and development partners have consistently given support to the dairy sector, in some instances directly through investments in infrastructure such as milk coolers, and indirectly through construction of roads to ease transportation of milk. Some of these interventions have had a positive impact on the sector.
For instance, the government distributed 121 sets of milk coolers and matching generators to dairy farmers’ organizations in various districts across all the milk sheds in the country. The districts include Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Pallisa, Apac, Gulu, Bugiri, Kibuku, Kamuli, Luwero, Nakaseke, Sembabule, Lyantonde, Isingiro and Kiruhura.
The global market for dairy products is worth $718.9b. The government says it will Uganda’s share in that market by producing more milk and adding value to it.
“It is critical that farmers adopt mechanisation and other good and efficient animal husbandry practices to maximise the potential that the dairy sector provides. Processors such as Jesa dairies and others are expanding their processing capacity an indication that there are more opportunities for you farmers and other value chain actors, Bright Rwamirama, state minister for Animal Industry said.