Sunday March 19 2017

Milk prices remain high as drought persists

A vendor measures milk for sale. The dry spell t

A vendor measures milk for sale. The dry spell that started at the beginning of the year has led to reduced supplies and increase in milk prices. FILE PHOTO 

By The East African

The effects of drought present a reality check for the country’s underdeveloped animal husbandry practices. Uganda depends largely on the open grazing system, which is vulnerable to weather shocks.

The ongoing drought experienced in many parts of Uganda has hit milk supplies hard, pushing up prices.

Industry players say supplies have dropped by as much as a quarter and that rising farm gate prices are forcing processors of milk and milk products to mark up their own prices.

The top three players — Jesa Farm Dairy, which produces Jesa Milk, Brookside Diaries which makes Fresh Diary and Premier Dairies, which produces Mega milk — have had to adjust their prices upwards in recent weeks.

In most urban centres, a litre of processed and pasteurised milk is selling for about Shs3,000 from Shs2,200 in November last year when prices began rising.
Stockouts have also been reported in both big and small outlets.

Milk products
Edwin Katende, a distribution manager at Jesa Farm Dairy, said that they were unable to meet the milk demand of their customers.

“We cannot even meet the needs of all our customers due to low production; we are now forced to outsource,” said Katende.
Moses Byaruhanga, the director of Premier Dairies, said that milk supply was down to about a quarter of the farm’s usual production.

“Many adjustments have been made and as the price of milk goes up on the farm, we are forced to increase the price to suppliers,” he said.

Jesa Farm Dairy and Premier Dairies dominate the fresh milk retail market. Jesa has an installed capacity of 80,000 litres while Premier’s is between 15,000 and 20,000 litres.
Uganda’s annual milk production stands at about 2.2 billion litres.

Timothy Nkuruzinza, a dairy farmer in Luwero district, said that the drought had affected the supply of fodder used as animal feed, thereby affecting milk production.

The effects of the drought present a reality check for the country’s underdeveloped animal husbandry practices.

The country depends largely on the open grazing system, which is vulnerable to weather shocks.

According to Byaruhanga who is also a senior presidential advisor on political affairs, recent intermittent rains have impacted on supplies.

He said that the rains may support some growth of fodder but are not enough to rehydrate the cows.

“It could take up to a month with more regular rains for the supplies to stabilise and the prices to come down,” said Byaruhanga.

Officials from the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) said the dry spell has forced dairy farmers to seek alternative means to feed their animals.

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Most ofJosephine Mbabazi, a milk seller in Luzira, said milk supplies have reduced drastically due to low production.
“Our suppliers tell us that lack of pasture and water for the animals has led to low production, yet the demand has remained constant. When the farmers incur more expenses, they increase milk prices, forcing us to also increase so as to make a profit,” she said.

Mbabazi noted that her customers have reduced.
“The number of people buying milk has reduced. Only a few of them can afford the milk,” she said.

David Ssebuliba, a maize brand seller in Mukono said the drought has pushed up prices of maize bran that is used for cattle feed. “When the drought persists, everything goes up. Our main buyers, the cattle farmers, get affected as well,”

www.theeastafrican.co.ke

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