Thursday April 24 2014

Ban on raw milk will turn farmers into paupers

By Moses Kyaruzi

I am a regular reader of the Wednesday Daily Monitor edition which publishes Seeds of Gold, a special pullout on farming. I have benefitted a lot from the knowledge normally contained in the pullout.
I am a progressive farmer from Sembabule District, Rugushuru Sub-county majoring in dairy farming. A litre of raw milk has been selling at Shs700 at a rural milk plant owned by a private individual and payments have been prompt after every two weeks.

However, things have changed since Friday following the government announcement of a ban on sale of raw milk and the resultant closure of milk coolers by the protesting traders. This has left farmers stranded with no alternative where to sell our milk. The prices have since drastically dropped to as low as Shs300 a litre.

This has greatly affected our income and yet we have to keep the farms running. The banning of sale of unprocessed milk is going to ruin farmers’ economic livelihoods.

Much as value addition is important, I don’t see logic in banning the selling of unprocessed milk when farmers don’t have the capacity to build milk processing plants in rural areas. More so, if the farmer is to be protected against low market prices and add value to his product, let the milk processing plants be set up near milk product and the packed milk be transported to city centres or consumers instead of the other way round.

For the hygiene of milk, the Dairy Development Authority should sensitise private owners of the coolers and give them guidelines. Banning or closure of the milk coolers is not a solution.

This, therefore, is to appeal to the President to intervene and rescue us from the few selfish milk processors who are trying to monopolise the market and cripple the dairy industry.

Mr Kyaruzi is one of the affected farmers.