RWANDA – The Ministry of Agriculture has banned export of unprocessed milk as part of efforts geared at streamlining the sector’s value chain.

The ban is mainly targeting cattle keepers in the Western Province districts of Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Ngororero, and provides tough measures against those that will contravene the new guidelines on milk trade in the area.

“According to an assessment conducted by the ministry, milk trade in the province is not being carried out in a professional and orderly manner as provided by the ministerial order N° 001/11.30 of 10/02/2016 regarding milk collection, transport and trading,” Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana said in the new guidelines released over the weekend.

“Therefore, the ministry in consultation with farmers, milk dealers and cooperatives and other players in the value chain in Western Province, we resolved to take strict measures against the disorderly milk trade to streamline the sector so that everyone involved can benefit more,” the minister added.

According to resolution number two of the seven new measures, livestock farmers are restricted from exporting unprocessed milk. The farmers were advised to sell the milk to collection centres for onward delivery to milk processing plants.

“The milk will be exported from the country only after it has been processed by accredited processing factories.

“Besides, the milk transportation permits provided by the ministry, every supplier must be given a service card by the milk collection centres,” said the minister in the statement.

She urged cooperatives that manage the collection centres to improve services to livestock keepers, warning that those who will fail to comply with the new guidelines and requirement “will be replaced by other more capable cooperatives.”

The ministry targets to help farmers raise milk production from the current 770,000 metric tonnes per year to over 800,000 tonnes next year.

Over 1,522,400 million litres of milk is collected per day yet only less than 10 per cent is processed, and 106 collection centres receive only 18 per cent of the daily milk produced in the country.

The national herd population is expected to hit 1.67 million cattle in 2017 and 1.92 million by 2020, an increase from 1,393,044 in 2015.

Formation of groups

According to the new resolutions, milk suppliers have also been given one week to form groups and inform the ministry of their operational needs so that they are supported to work in a professional manner.

As part of the exercise to streamline the milk trade, the ministry has tasked the Rwanda Cooperative Agency to review performance of milk cooperatives and weed out those that do not meet expectations.

The agency was also instructed to reallocate idle pasture lands to those who can utilise them.

The minister advised the farmers in Gishwati to keep number of cattle that’s proportional to the size of their farms.

District councils in the area were urged to draft byelaws to ensure that those that will contravene guidelines for milk collection, transportation and trading are apprehended and punished.

Dr Mukeshimana instructed key stakeholders, including the law enforcement agencies, local leaders, milk collection centres and cooperatives to implement the new resolutions without fail.

The New Times