Government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) has supported the dairy value chain with value addition equipment worth Shs2.5 billion with the aim of improving production and productivity but also promoting value addition to the milk produced in the country.
The move, according to Naiads, is intended to address the low levels of milk production and value addition, access to market challenges faced by dairy farmers, and improve the range and quality of Uganda’s milk products.
According to statistics from Dairy Development Authority (DDA), milk production in Uganda increased from 2.5 billion liters in 2018 to 2.8 billion liters in 2020, a rise that is attributed to the expansion of milk collection centers across the country. Currently, there are 483 milk collection centers countrywide with a total installed capacity of 1,938,522 litres.
Recently, government through NAADS has taken a deliberate effort to provide assorted value addition equipment for different commodities to selected farmers/farmer groups across the country to spur agro industrialization.
In the current financial year, a total of 5 sets of mini dairy processing equipment have been procured and are to be distributed to 5 dairy cooperatives/associations that qualified, having gone through the selection criteria put in place by NAADS working together with Dairy Development Authority (DDA) and Uganda Industrial Research Centre (UIRI).
An assessment on farmer readiness to receive the equipment was later conducted by NAADS together with DDA in financial year 2020/21.
The five associations/cooperatives include Kigezi Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society from Kabale district, Neema Dairies from Kamwenge district, Dwaniro Dairy and Livestock Farmers Cooperative Society in Kiboga district, Kyankwanzi Milk Processing Group from Kyankwanzi district and Balawoli Dairy Farmers Cooperative from Kamuli district.
The five form the first lot of beneficiaries of mini dairy equipment, with three others to benefit next financial year, and many others pending availability of funds.
To ensure adequate preparation of the target beneficiary groups/associations before they receive the equipment, NAADS Secretariat deemed it necessary to build and/or strengthen the business, technical and managerial capacity of the beneficiaries.
The one-week training took place at Mutanoga Dairy Farm in Rushere Town Council in Kiruhura district from 9th to 14th May 2022.
The training brought together 30 representatives of the beneficiaries of the mini dairy processing equipment who are being equipped with the relevant technical and managerial skills including business management, business mindset, food safety and quality management systems for milk, mini dairy processing infrastructure, equipment handling, quality control and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in milk reception and processing, packaging, and labelling, marketing and sales, dairy processing, and manufacturing among others.
Speaking to the trainees, the coordinator of the training program and Agribusiness Development officer at NAADS Secretariat Grace Fatuma Kazigati, urged them to take the training very serious saying government injected a lot of taxpayers’ money into the equipment and therefore the need for the beneficiaries to put the equipment to good use.
“The training program is very crucial and timely because it will equip the beneficiary associations/cooperatives with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage the mini dairy equipment which we expect to arrive in the country before the end of May. Our plan is to have the equipment installed at each of the selected beneficiary’s locations by the end of the month of May 2022,” explained Kazigati.
Engineer Micheal Shuwu, the Value Chain Development Officer at NAADS Secretariat added that the support given to the beneficiary groups is on cost-sharing basis where each beneficiary is required to have a ready and up to standard structure while government through NAADS provides the processing equipment.
“The five sets of the mini dairy processing equipment have cost Government approximately shs.2.5bn which included the cost of the equipment, shipment from China, installation at the selected locations and training of the beneficiaries”, said Micheal
Pamela Ejang, a diary inspector from DDA and one of the facilitators of the training said the equipment that the groups are going to receive will enable them to produce 3 dairy products including ghee, yoghurt, and cheese.
“The selected beneficiaries are mainly smallholders and some of them have been producing dairy products mainly yogurt using rudimentary methods. We are now moving them from the rudimentary methods of production to a mini dairy facility and eventually, they can expand to large scale processing”, said Ejang.
The beneficiaries of the mini dairy equipment applauded Government through NAADS for the support saying it has given them an opportunity to begin doing quality value addition from their milk which will save them from the ever-fluctuating prices of milk and enhance their income.
“The training we have received has given us a good foundation and practical knowledge that we need to effectively utilize the value addition equipment that Government is going to give us. As a cooperative, the support we are receiving will help us to improve our methods of production and improve the incomes of our members which is the ultimate goal of Government”, said Benjamin Turyahikayo, the Chairperson of Kigezi Dairy Cooperative Society.
“We gladly welcome the support from Government, and we are confident that the equipment we are going to receive will drive our cooperative forward, stabilize our farmers’ incomes through increased market for their milk and stable milk prices”, said Asiimwe Sharlif, the Manager Dwaniro Dairy and Livestock Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd
Another facilitator who is also the Proprietor and Director of Mutanoga Dairy Farm in Kiruhura, Emmanuel Tayebwa urged the trainees to take dairy production as a serious business that can earn them good money as long as they remain committed, employ the right people and follow the standard operating procedures for dairy production.
Milk is one of the key commodities that is in line with the current government strategy aimed at concentrating resources on strategic and priority areas to ensure a greater impact on household incomes and national export earnings.
Records from DDA indicate an increase in revenue from exports of dairy products from Shs.480bn in 2018 to Shs.750bn in 2020. The most common exported dairy products include powdered milk, ghee, butter, UHT milk, casein/whey among others. Other products from milk include pasteurized milk, yoghurt, cream, ice cream, fermented milk, and cheese to mention but a few.