The government started stocking exotic dairy breeds in 1960s to increase milk production. In 1967, Dairy Industry Act was enacted leading to the setting up of Dairy Corporation that became responsible for development, marketing and regulating the industry.
A master plan was then developed in 1993 calling for the liberalisation of milk marketing, a Dairy Board be created to oversee the liberalised industry and the Dairy Corporation be privatised.
The 1998 Dairy Industry Act then created the Dairy Development Authority (DDA) and a purely commercial company the Dairy Corporation Ltd (DCL). DDA took over the development and regulatory functions of the dairy Industry and DCL was to be divested which took place in 2006.
It is now called Sameer Agriculture and Livestock Limited. The liberalisation of the sector paved way for private sector players. Processors such as GBK, Ra-Milk, Country Taste, Highland Creameries and Paramount Diaries begun buying and processing milk in southwestern region. Some like Ra-Milk, Country Taste and Highland Creameries have since folded or changed names.
Out of at least 30 milk processors in the country, 18 are from the south western region. Key milk processors in the region include Sameer, Pearl Dairy, Jesa Farm Dairy, GBK, Hill Top and Paramount Diaries.
Farmers in Ankole and Kigezi have come together through Uganda Crane Creameries Cooperative Union (UCCCU). UCCCU has 10 unions and 110 primary societies with more than 140 milk collection centres. They are building a multi-billion milk processing plant in Ruti, Mbarara which will begin processing milk in two years time.
The cooperative members’ milk has increased to more than 2,000 litres from 1600 litres in the past. They own 1,000 and 6,000 litre coolers in Mbarara and Isingiro districts.
Another milk plant is being built by Indians at Akagate in Sanga Sub-county in Kiruhura District.