Inyange industries – Rwanda’s diary processing firm has said it will stop receiving milk supply every two days of the week, from three most producing districts in the country.
The decision, the firm says, is in line with extending market beyond Rwandan borders as well as conduct weekly maintenance due to increasing milk production.
In a letter sent to Gicumbi district officials and head of farmers’ union in the Northern Province which was seen by KT Press, Inyange had, effective December 29, 2018, stopped receiving milk from farmers every Saturday and Sunday of the week.
Other districts affected are Nyagatare and Gatsibo in Eastern Province. The new development, farmers say, has hugely left them in massive loss.
Many had been left with no selling option – other than dumping milk produced during the above mentioned days.
While Inyange promises the decision to expire within one month, farmers cannot bare the pain endured as a result of the loss.
Estimates indicate that at least 130,000 litters of milk are produced every day from Nyagatare (65,000) Gicumbi (40, 000) and Gatsibo (25,000).
Roughly, it means that 260,000 litters remain stuck every two days a week and farmers who spoke to KT Press said they cannot get immediate consumers of their produce since Inyange stopped receiving their milk.
At Rwf220 initial price given to a farmer per litter, the effect has left farmers with a loss of at least Rwf57.2 million in the past one weekend alone (29&30 Dec, 2018).
“The decision has severely affected me in many ways,” said Benon Gakwandi – a farmer in Karangazi sector in Nyagatare district.
Gakwandi supplies 50 litters of milk daily. Selling each litter at Rwf220, Gakwandi has, since the decision was taken on December 29, 2018, made a loss of Rwf22,000 from 100 litters in the previous weekend.
Damas Gasana – another farmer in Nyagatare district produces 200 litters a day from his farm. With no other option, Gasana has decided to dump milk due to failure to supply to the market.
“I dump it. There are no available local consumers,” he said.
At least 2 million litters of milk are produced in the country every day – or 60 million litters a month, according to Dr. Cassien Karangwa – Director of domestic trade in the ministry of trade and Industry.
Apart from Inyange which handles over 2.8 million litters a month, according to its officials, the remaining quantity had been sold to other local processing factories.
Rwanda Agriculture Board – the government agency charged with strengthening milk production in the country says it shares frustration with farmers.
“We feel the frustration of the farmers. Our job is always to ensure increased production of milk in the country. We can feel what farmers are undergoing as a result of disrupted market, but I am sure through Ministry of Trade, something is being done to fix this problem,” said Dr. Solange Uwituze, Deputy Director General in charge of Animal Resources Research and Technology Transfer at RAB.
Outsourcing new market
As part of dealing with the current issue and find immediate markets for farmers, the ministry of Trade says it is engaging all partners including Inyange Industries to find a quick response that can save farmers from incurring colossal losses.
According to Dr. Karangwa, one of the responses is mobilizing local milk dealers to buy from farmers in large quantities, while another option is to establish milk zones in the affected districts where farmers can supply milk.
“We had a meeting with representatives of farmers yesterday (Monday) and other stakeholders. For the case of Nyagatare, we agreed with Inyange to keep receiving milk from farmers as we establish milk zones around the district where farmers can supply,” Dr. Karangwa told KT Press.
In other affected districts, he said, milk zones will also be established while retail shops will also be mobilized to buy milk from farmers.
According to Dr. Karangwa, this is not the first time the issue came up.
“We had a similar problem in Rubavu district in Western Province. We mobilized local processing firms to buy milk from farmers and process it. It worked off and we got them a market in Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.