RWANDA – Rwanda has experienced a substantial increase in milk availability, with per capita consumption quadrupling over the past two decades, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Ildephonse Musafiri.

This revelation came during the 19th National Dialogue Council, or Umushyikirano, where the minister highlighted the progress made in the dairy sector.

Musafiri commended the success of initiatives like the “One Cow per Poor Family Programme” (Girinka), attributing the increased milk consumption to such interventions.

He noted that per capita milk consumption has risen from 20 liters per year in 2006 to an impressive 78 liters per year at present.

Musafiri noted that the Girinka program, among other interventions, played a vital role in this surge.

“Girinka program aims to distribute cows to poor families, enhancing their livelihoods through increased milk consumption and income generation. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) underscores the importance of milk as a rich and affordable source of high nutritional quality protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A.”

He added that genetic improvements in Rwanda’s dairy cattle, incorporating high milk-yielding breeds such as Holstein-Friesian and Jersey, have also significantly contributed to the increased milk production.

This move resulted in a decline in local breeds but a surge in pure and crossbreeds, enhancing overall productivity.

Gahiga Gashumba, a dairy farmer, highlighted the impact of improved farming practices, including the adoption of crossbreeds and pure breeds.

The shift to crossbreeds and exotic breeds has seen an increase in milk production compared to traditional breeds.

Data from Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) revealed that the country’s average milk yield per day per cow varies, with local breeds producing 1.5 liters, improved (cross) breeds yielding 7.5 liters, and pure breeds reaching 20-30 liters.

As of January 2023, milk production exceeded 1 million tonnes, a substantial increase from over 142,500 tonnes in 2005.

The Deputy Director General in charge of Animal Resources Development at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board, Solange Uwituze, attributed the growth to various factors.

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

“Increased milk availability has led to higher income for dairy farmers and enhanced milk consumption per capita,” he said.

“The establishment of milk zones with coolers, owned by both agro-processing firms like Inyange Industries and milk collection centers, has played a crucial role in making milk more accessible to the public.”


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