UGANDA – The Ugandan Dairy Development Authority (DDA) through its Southwestern Regional office has launched a sensitization campaign against illegal centrifugation of milk targeting stakeholders in the dairy sector.

DDA unfolded the department’s struggle to counter the illegal milk-cream separation despite the ongoing efforts to combat milk adulteration in the country.

The dairy authority recently recorded over 20 new cases of illegal centrifugation in Kiruhura, Isingiro, Kazo, and Ibanda districts.

The cases prompted the semi-autonomous agency under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of the vice.

Dr. Moses Ahimbisibwe, the Regional Manager, explains that this process involves the use of cream-removing machines called separators. He explains that despite their ongoing efforts to combat milk adulteration, the practice of cream separation is increasing, and separated milk is being found on the market.

According to Dr. Ahimbisibwe, unregistered processors clandestinely engage in the process of cream removal to produce butter. These processors also sell the remaining non-nutritious milk. At present, this activity is being conducted on a small scale due to fear of apprehension.

Over the past two years, the authorities have managed to apprehend 20 individuals involved in these illegal practices. They have been prosecuted in court, with fines imposed on some and warnings issued to others.

Abel Muzamugumya, a dairy farmer from Kikatsi in Kiruhura District, confirms the existence of this practice.

He recalls that it was first noticed in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown when milk sales had declined. Farmers sought alternative ways to maximize their business profits.

Despite the challenge of selling separated milk, Muzamugumya believes that obtaining cream provides added value. He calls on the government to recognize this aspect of the industry.

Emmanuel Tayebwa, a dairy consultant at Mutanoga Dairy Training Center, emphasized the sensitivity of milk as a perishable product that can be easily exploited and suggested that the DDA should engage directly with farmers to ensure proper management and curb such practices.

Tayebwa pointed out that the freely available separators used in this vice allow anyone to engage in the separation business, making it profitable. This is to be considered that separated butter is being sold at 40,000 shillings per kilogram in the country.

He urged the authority to investigate where the separated milk is being sold and identify specific markets for it as the practice of separating milk disrupts the value chain and the functioning of factories and cooperative societies involved in milk collection.

This rise in illegal cream separation comes at a time when the dairy sector is experiencing significant growth, with raw milk production increasing from 1.9 billion liters in 2014 to 3.2 billion liters in 2022.

Data from the Dairy Development Authority shows that the number of licensed milk collection centers has also increased from 475 with a total installed capacity of 2.21 million liters in 2021/21 to 547 centers with a capacity of 2.3 million liters in 2021/22, keeping pace with the rising milk production.

The South Western Regional Diary Development Authority oversees 30 districts in the Kigezi and Ankole regions, which are home to 7 large milk processing plants.

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