The government, through the Dairy Development Authority (DDA), has stepped up efforts to boost the quality and production of milk in Busoga Sub-region.
The DDA is a government agency responsible for the provision of dairy development and regulatory services aimed at promoting milk production and consumption, and the attainment of a profitable dairy industry sector.
The DDA estimates that the eastern region, which comprises all the 12 districts in Busoga Sub-region and Bukedi Sub-region (Budaka, Butaleja, Butebo, Pallisa, Kibuku, Tororo and Busia), contributes about nine percent of the national milk production, with most of it coming from Buyende, Kamuli, Kaliro and Luuka districts.
Mr Nathan Magona, the DDA manager for eastern region, told the Monitor on Tuesday that the biggest chunk of milk consumed in Jinja and Iganga districts is from the districts of Kamuli and Buyende.
“Therefore, we decided to carry out sensitisation on quality standards and dairy regulations in both districts instead of pushing the farmers out of business,” Mr Magona said.
“Our agenda is to sensitise the farmers on hygienic handling of milk, early delivery to the milk collection centres, keeping healthy animals, and significantly chilling milk at least within two hours of milking.
“In Kamuli and Buyende districts, we have engaged dairy farmers, those who collect milk from collection centres and those who transport it from the collection centres to Jinja,” Mr Magona added.
Farmers in Busoga Sub-region have continued to endure low returns on sugarcane, which has forced several of them out of business. But Mr Magona said these can find redemption in dairy farming.
“Sugarcane takes about 18 months to mature, while farmers involved in growing rice in Bukedi harvest it twice a year; but dairy is something that gives our farmers income daily,” he explained.
Mr Magona said: “As we push people to middle-income status, we need to incorporate them in the dairy industry; those found in the industry need not be crushed but corrected to see that there is improved quality and productivity.”
“There is increased demand internally and from Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Algeria, Zambia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, China and the European Union, among other destinations,” Mr Magona said.
He added that the volume of milk produced countrywide has gone up from 2.9 billion litres last year to a projected 3.2 billion litres this year.
Dr James Kunya, the Kamuli District veterinary officer, hailed the DDA for the sensitisation, saying plans are underway to see that every milk vendor has a lactometer.
Figures obtained by the DDA indicate that the average daily milk production per cow in Busoga Sub-region is less than two litres, while that from the dairy cross breeds is 5.59 litres in the morning and 4.23 litres in the evening, making a total of 9.82 litres.
With such figures, Busoga Sub-region is considered “a milk deficit region” because the low volumes of milk produced within the region don’t meet the demand, with major consumption markets relying on other regions, especially the central and south-western.
A girl tends to a cow and its twin calves in Kagulu, Buyende District last weekend. PHOTO/SAM CALEB OPIO
Ms Pamela Ejang, a senior dairy inspector at DDA, said the south-western region is ably dealing with the issue of quality.
“Mbarara, for example, adopted the quality-based paying system five years ago, which will also be adopted in Busoga Sub-region,” she said, appealing to farmers to change the time at which they milk their cows.
According to Mr Magona, milk has a natural inhibitor that allows it to stay safe for up to three hours (after milking) before losing its freshness.
Mr Frederick Mugerwa, the DDA principal inspector, said they want to develop a policy of working with dairy farmers to ensure increased production and quality.
He said: “We guide them (farmers) to improve but not to crush the industry; we are out to teach them and they are gradually moving towards higher milk production.”
Ms Jane Nabirye, a milk vendor at Igwaya Village, Kagulu Sub-county in Buyende District, said she wakes up as early as 5am to clean the milking utensils, warm water to clean the cows’ udder and ensure her milk is on the road to the milk collecting centre by 6am.
“We discovered that when you milk the cow after cleaning its udder with warm water, you get more milk as the warmth stimulates milk flow,” she said.
Mr Fredrick Kabala, the Buyende District production officer, said he had noted an increase in milk production and use of modern farming practices uptake in the district.
Background … Dairy in Uganda
Dairy is Uganda’s third largest export after coffee and fish respectively, and according to the DDA, it accounted for about Shs398.1b in revenue in the Financial Year 2021/2022.