RWANDA – The government of Rwanda is putting in place several initiatives to maintain milk production even during the dry season, Solange Uwituze, the deputy director general of animal resources development at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) has revealed.

Rwanda depends on its 1.43 million cows for milk and seeks to ensure the sustainability of dairy supply even during the dry season.

Of the total number of cows in the country, 16% are local breeds, 32% make up pure breeds (Holstein-Friesian or Jersey), and 52% are improved breeds, according to recent cattle registration data from Uwituze.

Solange told The New Times that the current average milk production is 1.5 litres a day per cow from local breeds, 7.5 litres per day from improved breeds and 20-30 litres per day from pure breeds.

She further explained to The New Times that the country intends to improve productivity from the improved breeds to 10.3 litres per day, a 37% increase, and that of pure breeds to their maximum potential of 30-50 litres.

Uwituze points out that the overall production of milk was 999,976 tonnes in 2022, a 12% annual increase from the 891,326 tonnes produced and recorded in the year 2021.

This production level currently meets the national demand except during some months in the dry season when it dwindled on account of the scarcity of water.

Some of the programs that the government is exploring to secure milk supply all year round include improving dairy farmers’ knowledge and skill towards the appropriate breeding and rearing practices as well as improving farmers’ access to artificial insemination and veterinary services.

Other interventions include the provision of support to farmers in the processes of harvesting and storage of water along with the cultivation and storage of forage.

As drought causes low production and supply shortages, Uwituze expressed confidence that these measures will help meet the demand of dairy factories like Inyange Industries Ltd’s powder milk plant whose demand is estimated to be 500,00 litres per day.

Farmers signed contracts to supply the milk plant when it was first commissioned and the initiatives from the government will help them hold up their end of the bargain.

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