UGANDA – Milk prices have surged in Kasese District, western Uganda, due to a reduction in production attributed to the drought that has plagued the country for the last three years.

According to dairy outlet operators as well as pastoralists around the district, the unavailability of water and pasture is affecting milk production levels which have resulted in a litre of milk costing between UGX2,500 – 3,000 (US$0.68- 0.81) up from UGX2,000 (US$0.54) a week ago.

Moses Atwiine, a dairy outlet operator, revealed that the quantity of milk supplied by farmers has drastically reduced in the last two weeks owing to the lack of good and sufficient pasture.

He disclosed that he used to source about 100 litres every day from local dairy farmers but the amount has decreased to 60 litres, greatly impacting his customers.

“It’s dry as you can see, the production of our cows largely relies on the natural weather, so we expect the production to go down further until the wet season begins,” he said.

Farmers have had to raise the price of milk to offset production costs in turn leading to dairy collectors and suppliers also raising their prices for the same reasons, which trickles down to the consumer eventually.

The players involved are urging the government to invest in the construction of valley dams in the district to help combat the scarcity of water during dry seasons.

In addition to drought, there are several other obstacles in the way of Uganda’s dairy sector, such as a high rate of failure for artificial insemination and limited access to extension services and limited investments in feed resources.

While presiding over International Women’s day on March 8th, President Yoweri Museveni, urged Ugandans to get involved in lucrative commercial agriculture, specifically dairy farming, to help fight poverty in the country.

He disclosed the dairy sector is currently valued at US$3.8 billion while dairy exports earn the country about US$106.2 million every year.

He also said that the country is currently producing 3.22 billion litres of milk per year and they are aiming at 20 billion litres which they can achieve if more Ugandans took up dairy farming

A report by the Economic Policy Research Centre, based on investigations into livestock production practices and milk productivity, revealed that the country has the potential to produce over 10 billion litres of milk.

The report showed that most farmers in western Uganda who initially embraced exotic breeds are reverting to local Ankole cattle. An exotic breed can produce up to 40 litres of milk per day compared with just three litres from local breeds.

Farmers resorted to local breeds due to a high prevalence of disease in exotic animals which increased their total disease control budget.

However, not all hope is lost in the sector as the DDA recently announced in the FY2021/2022 annual dairy performance report that dairy exports generated an 11% increase from last year to UGX382 billion (US$103M), despite the persistent drought.

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