18 January 2014

Rwanda: Gicumbi Farmers Get Milk Tanker Truck

Land O'Lakes, an organisation that promotes dairy development, has donated a truck equipped with a cold facility to Gicumbi dairy farmers.

"This is a big relief to us as we have been making loses since milk could go bad before reaching buyers in Kigali due to poor transport facilities," Milton Harerimana, the director of finance at Blessed Dairies in Gicumbi, said.

He added that the facility, that will benefit farmer under Blessed Dairies, could also reduce the firm's transport expenses by 5 per cent.

Harerimana was speaking during a ceremony to receive the milk delivery truck at Blessed Dairies offices in Byumba on Thursday.

The donation is part of the $15m (Rwf10.4b) five-year Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness programme II that is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Land O'Lakes. It aims at improving milk quality, enhance production and increase the competitiveness of the country's dairy products, as well as boost household incomes of farmers.

Land O'Lakes has so far distributed milk coolers and cans, trucks and generators to farmers in Nyanza, Gatsibo, Gicumbi and Gasabo districts worth Rwf183m under the project.

Frank O'Brien, the Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness programme chief of party, said ensuring quality is vital to ensure competitiveness of the dairy industry.

He called for more support to the sector to enhance milk production in the country, saying this will also help boost household incomes and reduce poverty levels, especially in the rural areas.

O'Brien said farmers and milk dealers should be supported to secure facilities that will help them ensure quality, as well as link them directly with market.

Jon Halverson, the vice-president of the international development division at Land O'Lakes in Minnesota in the US, said it is critical that dairy farmers are linked to the market if they are to benefit from the business.

"This requires the participation of everyone in the milk value chain," Halverson said.

He also challenged farmers to take control of the industry as Land O'Lakes International starts to scale down their involvement.

The donation also comes at a time when Rwanda Bureau of Standards is stepping up efforts to improve standards along the milk value chain.

According to the Rwanda Agriculture Board, Rwanda's milk production has increased by 11 per cent over the past two years from 442,337 tonnes in 2011 and 503,130 tonnes last year.

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