State Minister for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama has revealed that his ministry plans to propose amendments to the National Dairy Development Act, to introduce tougher sanctions against those undermining the quality of Uganda’s milk.
While addressing dairy farmers at Sembabule District headquarters last week, Rwamirama expressed concern that Uganda was losing external market for its milk due to poor handling habits within the local supply chain, noting that it was time to start enforcing stricter quality controls.
According to figures from the Dairy Development Authority, Uganda has seen a surge in Dairy exports in the last decade, from $5million in 2008 to $130million at the end of 2017. In the same period, the country saw local milk production grow to nearly 3billion liters per annum, of which 300million liters are exported annually making Uganda the leading exporter of milk and milk products in the region.
Now, Rwamirama fears that these gains risk being eroded by unscrupulous actors in the Dairy value-chain. He pointed out in particular that there has been a tendency by milk suppliers, dealers and processors to dilute and contaminate milk with water and other chemicals to increase quantity and lessen perishability.
He warned that such practices were eating away at Uganda’s “legendary” milk purity, affecting its quality, while posing a big health risk to consumers.
“These(unscrupulous) players are taking advantage of the current law which is lenient. But now, we (the ministry) are proposing penalty reforms ranging from three-month to seven years’ imprisonment, which we hope will be deterrent,” he said.
Rwamirama also noted that Uganda needs to increase local milk consumption, arguing that impressive export receipts need to be anchored on an equally strong local consumption.
According to the World Health organization, it is recommended that an ordinary person should averagely consume 200 liters of milk annually, while Uganda’s average mil consumption per capita is 40 liters, the lowest in East Africa.