By Ronald Ssenvuma
Government has been asked to urgently address the issue of low pricing for Uganda’s dairy exports to enable farmers benefit from their investments. This is after Kenya’s president William Ruto recently boasted that Kenyans have turned to Uganda for cheaper milk for consumption, while their farmers are reaping big from dairy exports after adding value.
However, local players in the livestock sector have disputed claims that Uganda’s milk is cheaper.
Prof Frank Asiimwe, the Vice Chairperson of the Livestock Development Forum, also a consultant Urologist explains to KFM that Uganda’s milk only appears cheaper because of exploitation by middlemen, who must be done away with.
“Our milk is not supposed to be cheap but the cartels and middlemen are making it look cheaper. They are buying it at say Sh400 per litre and selling it to Kenyans at about Shs1,200 which is slightly lower than the farm gate price of about Shs1,500, so in the eyes of the Kenyan, Ugandan milk is cheap,” he said.
Statistics from the Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB) show that in 2021, Uganda exported $38.1 millon in Milk, making it the 31st largest exporter of milk in the world. In the same year, milk was the 7th most exported product in Uganda. The main destinations of milk exports from Uganda are Kenya ($38.1 millon), Burundi ($11.7 thousand), and Rwanda ($2.26 thousand).
Meanwhile, Ugandan livestock farmers have also renewed calls for the elimination of middlemen in the dairy business to ensure safety of milk on the market.
Prof Asiimwe is particularly concerned that some of the milk is contaminated during transportation by the middlemen, posing a serious health risk to the consumers.
His comments are in relation to a video that is circulating on social media, in which a man who was transporting milk in metallic cans on a motorcycle Reg UFG 172N is seen adding water collected from what appears to be a sewerage channel in Mbarara city.
In a phone interview with KFM, Prof Asiimwe said the desire to maximize profits should not be allowed to override quality.
He proposes that to address this problem, farmers should be supported through strong cooperatives to have milking machines and pasteurize the milk on the farm.
“All these must be replaced with scientific processes that ensure basic hygiene and guarantee quality”, he said.
He suggested the use of milling machines and pasteurizing on the farm, as well as packing, sealing, and delivering the packed milk directly to consumers through a cooperative.