Mbarara. Stakeholders in the Uganda dairy industry say the future looks bright following several interventions by the government to grow the enterprise, seen as a key component in turning the wheels of the economy especially in the rural areas.
Processors, input suppliers and agro-industry financiers are optimistic that with more stakeholder commitment, the contribution of dairy to the country’s Gross Domestic Product could rise above the 10 per cent mark.
Speaking during this year’s Uganda Livestock and Heritage show at Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara District over the weekend, industry players spoke of renewed efforts to stimulate milk production by encouraging farmers to adopt best practices on the farm.
Milk industry leader in the country, Fresh Dairy, said income from export of milk products had risen by more than 20 per cent over the past one year as a result of increased production at the farm gates.
“In the past 12 months, our production has risen to more than 500,000 litres per day following sustained efforts by farmers to grow daily production. This saw the value of our exports rise to $10 million (Shs33.6 billion), thereby putting milk as a critical foreign exchange earner for the country,” Mr John Gethi, Fresh Dairy director of milk procurement, said.
He attributed the rise in value of exports to improved product quality after the company invested in a $14 million plant upgrade at its Kampala processing factory.
“Because of the favourable investment climate in Uganda, we paid farmers Shs50 billion last year and boosted the capacity of our raw milk cooling stations in the country to enable them take more milk from farmers. We are grateful to dairy farmers who have embraced our stringent milk quality regime right from the farm-gates,” Mr Gethi said, adding: “The expansion has come with new job opportunities and in the past year alone, over 90 Ugandans have secured employment to work with us in our new growth strategy.”
The show, which attracted hundreds of farmers, was held to create empowerment for farmers in best practice in dairy animal husbandry. Input suppliers, agro-vet traders and financial institutions were also in attendance.
Farmers interviewed said there was an urgent need to move dairy farming from being rain-dependent.
“Dairy farming has become seasonal with milk volumes increasing during the rains and when the dry season comes, production goes down,” Mr Ronald Ssengendo, a smallholder farmer from Rushere, said, adding: “This explains why I am very keen on the animal feed stands here. I want to learn how to make and preserve animal feed to enable my production remain optimum throughout all seasons.”
Many farmers spoken to thanked processors for making assured monthly payments for milk delivered.
Uganda’s dairy industry is awash with a number of players who trade in processed milk. They include the following licensed milk processing companies in the country, namely: Brookside Dairy (Fresh Dairy) Uganda Ltd, Jesa Farm Dairy Limited, Pearl Dairy Farms Limited, Amos Dairies Limited, Paramount Dairies Limited, GBK Dairy Products Limited, and Vital Tomosi Dairy Limited, among others.