RWANDA – Rwanda’s dairy sector has experienced significant growth, with annual milk production surpassing one million tonnes (one billion litres) in 2023, according to the 2022/2023 annual report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).

The achievement marked the country’s progress toward the target of more than 1.2 million tonnes set for the financial year 2023/2024.

Meanwhile, the country has witnessed a steady increase in milk production, rising from over 121,400 tonnes in 2005 to 891,326 tonnes in 2020.

The Deputy Director General in charge of Animal Resources Development at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), Solange Uwituze, attributed the growth to various interventions in boosting the dairy sector.

These include the practice of zero grazing, forage cultivation and preservation, livestock water harvesting and storage, livestock insurance, and enhanced dairy cattle husbandry practices.

Uwituze highlighted that the increased milk production results in enhanced availability for milk processing establishments, higher milk consumption per capita, and increased income for dairy farmers.

This rise in productivity ensures a reliable supply to the dairy industry, meeting the demand of a newly established milk powder factory in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province, with a daily processing capacity of 500,000 litres of liquid milk.

In the 2022/2023 fiscal year, over 81 million litres of milk were supplied to milk processing plants, constituting about 8% of the total milk produced during the same period.

The remaining bulk of the milk was supplied directly to the market or consumers without factory-level processing.

The upcoming milk powder factory in Nyagatare, with an inauguration planned for April, will further contribute to the growth of Rwanda’s dairy industry.

The facility, equipped to process 650,000 litres a day, is expected to boost the local dairy value chain.

The current state of Rwanda’s cattle breed and population is reported to be over 1.6 million, with 16% being local breeds and 84% improved breeds obtained through genetic improvement.

Uwituze emphasized that while improved breeds play a significant role in current milk production, ongoing research aims to enhance the production of local breeds.

He highlighted various factors contributing to the increased milk production including the introduction of highly productive cattle breeds, the provision of cows under the One Cow per Poor Family Programme (Girinka), improved infrastructure, and progress in agro-processing.

The interventions also extend to supporting farmers in cultivating and storing forage to sustain milk production throughout different seasons.

Subsidies for forage seeds, training on appropriate storage techniques, and enhanced water access are part of the ongoing efforts to sustain and further boost milk production in Rwanda.

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