RWANDA – The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in Rwanda have unveiled $1.3 million (Rwf1.1 billion) worth of equipment aimed at improving the dairy sector.  

Through Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP) – a joint project between IFAD and the ministry of agriculture – the equipment will be distributed to dairy farmers in the country.

The equipment include 25 milk coolers each with a capacity to handle over 2,000 litres as well as 16,262 milk cans – in which farmers will foot in 20% the cost while the RDDP will provide the remaining 80%, reports New Times.

The project is aimed at improving milk safety and quality through enhancing hygienic handling of milk, especially during transportation.

This comes as a relief to dairy farmers in the country who have been for long grappling with low incomes partly because of poor milk handling techniques which have continually impacted on the quality.

Michel Ngarambe, a farmer organisation specialist at RDDP, said the project will improve the quality of milk delivered to collection centres and processing facilities hence minimising the losses that dairy farmers incur.

“We want to increase first grade milk produce which is used to make long shelf life, milk that lasts for nine months and it is still safe for consumption.

“Some milk is rejected at collection centres, or at factory level because of its quality. But, when farmers get standard equipment, there will be a significant reduction in the milk that was getting deteriorated, which will increase income,” he said.

Sebageni Damascene, the President of Mizingo Milk Collection Centre (MCC) also highlighted the lack of sufficient milk cooling system was hurting their earnings.

Currently, the country’s annual milk production stands at about 816. 79 million litres, according to the ministry of agriculture with milk production projected to hit at least 1.2 billion litres per year by 2022.

Rwanda targets a per capita milk consumption of 80 litres per person per year by 2020, from approximately 40 litres in 2012, according to the National Dairy Strategy.

The government has also adopted various interventions targeted at increasing the country’s milk production through restocking the country’s dairy livestock as well as improving feed and health interventions.