The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, has told farmers in Eastern Province that dairy production in the country is still wanting both in quantity and quality.
The minister was meeting livestock farmers, leaders of milk collection centres and veterinarians from the three districts of Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Kayonza.
The three districts are the powerhouse of milk production in Rwanda, but because they have the largest land earmarked for livestock farming, the agriculture minister said they are not doing enough.
"The milk output from this province compared to other regions is still insufficient given that you have the largest land mass earmarked for livestock farming, to be precise, the land is not being as productive as it ought to be," she said.
Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources has called for increase of quantity and quality of dairy production from the largest province of the country
She pointed out Nyagatare, the largest district of the country, which has over 100,000 dairy cows.
Nyagatare has 16 milk collection centres (MCCs).
Figures from Nyagatare Dairy Farmers Union (NDFU) indicate that 9,358,428 litres of milk were collected from MCCs between June and December last year.
However, the collection centres rejected 1,688,506 litres because the milk was found lacking minimum standards.
Minister Mukeshimana (C), with Governor of Eastern Province, Fred Mufulukye (R) and Gatsibo District Mayor, Richard Gasana, during the meeting on Monday afternoon
At least 11 million litres would have been collected had it not been for lack of quality.
"We have a small country with small land; we should therefore optimise the little we have," she said, imploring the mayors of the three districts to do the necessary follow up.
She said that just like the leaders should take it upon them to hold farmers accountable but also reminded them of making sure they have all that is needed to get better yield.
"Farmers in other districts are insuring for their cows, but how many in Nyagatare have already bought insurance?" she inquired.
In the meantime, Mukeshimana learned that the quality of milk is affected by the fact that some farmers undertake to inject their cows with an antibiotic drug, which is unacceptable.
The milk rejected at MCCs includes one found to have antibiotic in it.
"Even in humans, the antibiotic is taken with caution; you cannot go in pharmacy and buy antibiotics, this is the same with livestock, you must leave this to the veterinarians and they are there for that," she said.
Godfrey Mpambara, leader of MCC in Karangazi Sector, complained that there is a large amount of milk that goes bad due to delays by the Nyagatare-based processing plant.
The processing plant called Savannah is operated by Inyange Industries.
An official from Inyange who was present pledged to revise their operation and pick the milk in good time.
He reassured the farmers that the market is so large, urging them to produce more to be able to satisfy the demand.