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Dairy farmers struggle to find market for their milk



Preservation. Workers offload milk for chilling at a cooler owned by Nyamitsindo Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd in Mbarara District in February last year. PHOTO BY ALFRED TUMUSHABE 

Majority of the cattle keepers in Ankole and some parts of central Uganda have over the last three decades been investing heavily in dairy farming.
This involves clearing land of thicket and removing plant species that cows do not feed on in order to allow the right pastures flourish.
The farmers in this endeavour have to dig valley dams to ensure cows drink adequately. Farmers also have to acquire, breed and nurture cows of high milk yield. The cows have to be sprayed against ticks and other external parasites at least once a week to guard against diseases such as east coast fever and babesiosis.
They have to be dewormed and injected at least every three months to check internal parasites and diseases. These are basic practices that farmers producing high quality and large volumes of milk have to do.
The revolution in dairy farming has resulted in high production of milk against the low domestic and fragile foreign markets.
Mr Ephraim Rwehooda, a farmer in Sanga Town Council, Kiruhura District, is one of the cattle keepers that abandoned traditional long horned cattle for exotic breeds. He milks 300 litres for sale every day.
“I cannot keep on my farm a cow that produces less than 10 litres,” says Mr Rwehooda.
Kiruhura alone produces 1.2 million litres of milk every day, which is about 60 per cent of milk produced in the entire country, according to the LC5 chairperson and farmer, Rev Samuel Mugisha Katungunda.
During peak production (normally the wet season), the price of a litre of milk at the farm goes down to Shs300. Mr Katugunda says the cost of producing a litre of milk is about Shs600. “Shs300 a litre is nothing to a farmer. The minimum price should be Shs1,000; we are putting in quite a lot, about Shs600 is invested in producing one litre. Farmers are frustrated, some have started rearing cows for beef,” says Mr Katugunda.
The Kiruhura Farmers Sustainable Development Union chairperson, Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe Mwesiga, says milk from Kiruhura accounts for 45 per cent of Uganda’s milk exports but the farmer are not happy with the pay. He says the cost of producing a litre of milk is at least Shs500 and argues that it does not make economic sense when the price is below this amount. Farmers sell milk through their primary cooperative societies, some sell through middlemen, who sometimes collect milk from the farm and a few others sell directly to the processors.

Business dynamics
Ultimately, all the milk ends up in the hands of processors. The processors buying in Kiruhura, Mbarara and Isingiro are from Brookside Dairy Ltd, Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd, Jesa Farm Dairy Ltd, Amos Dairies Uganda Ltd, GBK Dairy Products Ltd, and Lakeside Dairies Ltd.
They make UHT milk, yoghurt, Casein, ghee and Lato Milk, among other products, which they sell in the local and international markets.
“Farmers are not involved in determining price, it is the processors that decide; we think they set the price jointly, we (farmers) take what they determine for us. We have decided to form this union to bring together farmers and be able to address the issue of price and market,” says Mr Kyeishe.
The manager of milk procurement at Lakeside Dairies Ltd in Ruti Mbarara, Dr Ronald Bamundaga, says all the processors in the area are buying a litre at Shs600 at the plant. He says a farmer is given less than Shs600 (currently Shs300) because middle men and other players incur costs of chilling the milk and transport before it reaches the processor.
“There is a boda boda man who picks milk from the farm to the collection centre, that one will deduct something, there is truck that will transport milk from the collection centre and take it to a cooler, that will also deduct something. A lot of money is lost along the chain,” says Dr Bamundaga.
He says currently Lakeside, which has intake capacity is 150,000 litres every day, is operating at 30-40 percent (45,000 to 60,000 litres) because Kenya, which has been their major export market, banned milk imports from Uganda.
Amos Dairies Uganda Ltd in Kiruhura, reportedly did not receive milk on Wednesday because of breakdown of the factory machines.

Ban on exportation
Kenya government banned milk products from Uganda (by Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd and Lakeside Dairies Limited) in December last year claiming they are sold cheaply and have flooded their market.
“As we talk now, all processors including us (Lakeside) are not operating fully or have shutdown operations because of closure of lack of market. Over 70 per cent of what we process is exported; we sell to South Sudan as well but the market is very small,” says Dr Bamundaga.
He says the tax in Tanzania, at TZS2,000 per litre, is very prohibitive and that Rwanda is already producing and processing enough much milk. He says they are exploring DR Congo market.
“The local market is very poor, consumption of milk is very low, domestic market takes only 12 per cent of what we collect, here (in Uganda) there is no culture of consuming milk,” says Dr Bamundaga.
Mr Frank Twine, a middleman in Kiruhura Town Council, on Wednesday said they were stuck with milk. “All coolers around are full, those transporting to factories have not come for two days now, we have stopped collecting milk from farmers,” Mr Twine said.
Efforts to get comment from Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd were futile. The company general manager, Mr Bijoy Varghese, did not answer our calls or reply our text message. However, no serious activity was taking place at the company.
Mr Eric Rutahigwa, a farmer in Mbarara producing about 1,600 litres a day, has called on government to intervene. “The government should come in and ensure farmers get a fair price for milk,” says Mr Rutahigwa.
Speaking at Nshwere Church of Uganda in Nyabushozi Kiruhura district on Christmas last year, President Museveni said low price of milk had been brought down by surplus production. He said Kenya which had been market for Uganda’s milk is equally producing a lot of milk because they received a lot of rain though it (Kenya) had always been a dry area.
Mr Museveni, however, advised farmers to remain optimistic saying the prices will become normal.

During the NRM/NRA 34th victory celebrations in Ibanda Municipality on January 26, Mr Museveni said three approaches of; market integration in Africa, promoting internal consumption and ensuring production of quality products, would be used to address the issue of lack of market for milk, maize, sugar, and cement.

Source: Daily Monitor

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National Coffee Forum Petitions Parliament Over UCDA Merger



Coffee stakeholders through National Coffee Forum say UCDA merger will disrupt the coffee sub-sector. Coffee is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange for Uganda

Coffee stakeholders through the National Coffee Forum – Uganda (NCF – UG) has petitioned Parliament through the Speaker over the proposed mainstreaming of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) into Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The government plans to merge a number of Agencies to the line Ministries in a move aimed at saving about Shs1 trillion annually. If the move succeeds, UCDA will be taken to MAAIF.

However, coffee stakeholders through NCF – UG say that they find the proposal to take UCDA to MAAIF untenable and detrimental to the coffee sub-sector.

NCF-UG is a private foundation whose membership includes farmers, processors, exporters, roasters, brewers and researchers, among others.

The Forum Chairperson Francis Wakabi says that mainstreaming the entity will negatively affect the achievements Uganda has attained in coffee production and export.

“This decision will negatively affect our access to the international market and will stunt Uganda’s economic growth opportunities by distorting the functions of UCDA that have stabilized the industry over the years,” said Wakabi in a petition dated February 21, 2024. The petition was copied in to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as well as all MPs.

He adds that Uganda should not risk its achievements by tampering with UDCA that is the main contributor to our coffee success story.

“Mainstreaming it would therefore disrupt the many livelihoods that depend on the industry and adversely affect the badly needed foreign exchange for the country,” the petition reads in part.

As a result of UCDA coffee regulation, Wakabi says that Uganda’s competitiveness was elevated on the global market, ensuring high quality Uganda coffee and enabling Uganda’s coffee to displace that of Brazil and India in Italy and UK coffee markets.

“… World over, coffee is supervised and regulated by a specialized body like UCDA for purposes of institutional memory and specialized focus. Experience from Ethiopia and Kenya who disbanded their specialized coffee authorities and mainstreamed them back into the relevant ministries had to reverse their decisions after registering negative outcomes,” said Wakabi.

The Forum further says that the European Union (EU) buys over 60% of Uganda coffee, making it the biggest market for Uganda.

“The EU has introduced a new regulation called the EU deforestation regulations (EUDR) which bans export of coffee from deforested land, taking effect from 2025. This calls for farmer traceability and the EU commission in Uganda is already working with UCDA to implement the said regulations. They require a country to constantly monitor deforested areas and map all the farmers for purposes of implementation of the farmer traceability program to maintain a high standard of quality. It was reported that Uganda has achieved most of the requirements under the EUDR and required a few steps to be declared compliant. Monitoring and implementing the scheme for the millions of farmers is a tedious activity which requires a specialized unit that can be best implemented using the already established structures of UCDA. Disrupting the current UCDA structure will not only halt the progress made in achieving compliance, but also risk reversing the gains made,” added Wakabi.

He avers that UCDA has been able to greatly contribute to Uganda’s improved Coffee quality through implementation of programs such as certification of Coffee nurseries to ensure quality of planting materials, Provision of Coffee specific extension services and agronomy to improve production and productivity, Provision of technical expertise in Coffee rehabilitation, post-harvest handling practices and pest and disease management and provision of coffee processing equipment like wet mills to farmers and cooperatives to improve quality and promote value addition. The coffee stakeholders are worried that once UCDA is taken to MAAIF which is loaded with many crops and projects, coffee, a key source of foreign exchange for Uganda may not get the necessary priority. Coffee stakeholders argue that if indeed Parliament is a people-centred institution, it should listen to the views of farmers and other stakeholders and retain UCDA as a semi-autonomous agency.

“Given the above position with the attendant reasons, the NCF advises that the proposed mainstreaming of UCDA into MAAIF should not be implemented and that the proposed Bill No. 30 (part VII) be dropped in order not to disrupt the industry and the progress made under the stewardship of UCDA. All coffee stakeholders are unanimously in agreement with this position,” reads the petition in part.


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Govt to import 10 million vaccines to control cattle disease



Entebbe, Uganda.  Government is set to import 10 million doses of vaccines to enable scaling up of ring vaccination as the fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ugandan cattle enters a new phase.

Cabinet chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday also proposed that once ring vaccination is complete, farmers start paying for the FMD vaccines in a compulsory vaccination scheme, and thereafter, trade in animal products, will be restricted to those adhering to the plan.

Minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fishers Frank Tumwebazwe on Monday shared the resolutions after Cabinet laid out strategies to contain the disease that has hit 36 districts.

Cabinet agreed to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population. It also approved a plan for farmers to pay for the vaccines while government covers other costs.

“Vaccination is to be made compulsory. Proof of vaccination will be a precondition for any farmer to sell any animal products,” said Minister Tumwebazwe.

“I appeal to fellow livestock farmers and stakeholders to understand and appreciate these effort as we steadily move to eradicate FMD in Uganda just like other animal diesases like rinderpest wre eradicated.”

Ntoroko veterinary disease surveillance team conducting FMD surveillance and sample collection

The 36 districts currently affected and under quarantine are Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fortportal City, Gomba, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule.

All districts neighboring the affected districts are at high risk, under strict surveillance, and the authorities have been advised to remain vigilant.

These include Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit,
Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso and Soroti.

Tumwebaze assured farmers that in the next one or two months, his Ministry expects to receive and dispatch 2.3 million doses of the FMD vaccine to the affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up.

He told parliament earlier that as a way of increasing availability of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines in the country,
Uganda’s National Agiculture Research Organisation (NARO) has started the process of formulating and developing an FMD vaccine for Uganda.

Source: The independent

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Farmers losing Shs4 trillion due to livestock diseases



ScienceDirect has revealed that farmers in Uganda lose more than $1.1b (Shs4.1 trillion) in aggregated annual direct and indirect loss due to the rising spread of tick-borne animal challenges, with the commonest and economically damaging tick-borne disease being the East Coast Fever.

The livestock industry in Uganda and its productivity continue to be threatened by a number of diseases many of which are tick-borne related.

This, Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioner animal health, said results from arcaricides that have become resistant, thus the need to ensure collaboration and get solutions to the problem.

“There are ongoing efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to support diagnosis of tick resistance to acaricides at regional laboratory centres but this is not enough,” she said during the livestock industry key stakeholders meeting in Kampala, which had been convened to discuss and prioritise areas for tick control.

The stakeholders included veterinarians, extension staff, farmers, processors and government representatives.

Ministry of Agriculture is already working on the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative, which seeks to, among others, provide sustainable solutions to enable small-scale farmers maximise the potential of their cattle by developing and practicing methods that can successfully manage tick infections in cattle.

During the meeting, the TickAcademy App, which will support farmers in managing tick infestations was also pre-launched.

By the end of January, farmers and extension workers will be able to access the app’s educational content, which includes simple-to-watch films, to help them become knowledgeable about tick control.

Mr Enrique Hernández Pando, the GALVmed head of commercial development and impact, said the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative will be important in tackling acaricide resistance challenges as well as help farmers and animal health officers to access creative methods of addressing the problem of acaricide resistance.

During the meeting, stakeholders jointly agree to train and sensitise field staff and farmers about tick management strategies that work, as well as strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure and testing capabilities for tick resistance and other animal health-related concerns.

Others will involve making it easier for farmers to obtain credit from savings institutions run by farmer groups at a reasonable cost so they may purchase specialized equipment for applying pesticides.

Mr Nishal Gunpath, the Elanco Animal Health country director south and sub-Saharan Africa, said they will support the Initiative to drive livestock in a better direction, noting that it will also help small-scale livestock farmers to maximise their potential.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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