Kabarole, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The milk cooler in Rwengaju Model Sub County in Kabarole district is operating way below capacity after it was shunned by farmers.
The cooler, which is located in Kidubuli village, was donated to the farmers by National Agricultural Advisory Services – Naads in 2020 after farmers requested for the machine saying it will help them minimise the losses resulting from poor milk handling.
Before it started operations, farmers agreed that Tooro Dairy Cooperative takes over its operations by buying their milk.
However, for close to a week now, the cooler, which has a capacity of 2,000 litres, has been under key and lock.
Julius Kagoro, a farmer, notes that the cooler is so distant from the farmers who have the milk and most of them are discouraged by the distance.
John Kusemererwa, a model farmer in the village, says that they got demoralized when they supplied their milk to Tooro Dairy Cooperative but were not paid. He says that as a result, they stopped storing milk in the cooler.
Richard Nyakaana, the chairperson of Rwengaju Model Farmers Committee, notes that they also lack veterinary and extension services, which challenges are making their cows less productive due to diseases, and hence the failure the collect enough milk.
The failure to utilize the milk cooler has had an effect on the milk prices in the area.
Individual buyers are taking advantage of the disunity of the farmers to set their prices they are using to buy the milk.
For instance, some farmers are selling their milk individually at 1,000 shillings a litre while others are selling at 1,000 shillings yet Tooro dairy had agreed to buy at 1,200 shillings.
In Fort Portal City, the litre of milk goes for 1,500 shillings.
Nyakaana suggests that the government through Naads can start by ensuring the model Sub County gets veterinary and extension services.
On Thursday, Naads Secretariat Executive Director, Dr Samuel Mugasi was shocked that the milk cooler is not being utilized. He urged farmers to work together to ensure the machine is utilized.
Silver Tulinawe, the Accountant Tooro Dairy Cooperative, says they are incurring a lot of money to run the cooler and fuel the vehicles to collect the milk. He adds that they were not getting the expected litres of milk from the farmers and hence making losses.
He says that they signed the Memorandum of Understanding- MOU with the farmers and agreed that at least each day they will produce 250 litres of milk, however, they are producing 150 litres.
In 2008, the government earmarked Rwengaju as a model parish under the “Prosperity for All” programme in the fight against poverty. In 2019, two villages were added to the parish to make 22 villages and the Kabarole district council resolved that it was fit to become a Sub County.
During a visit to the then parish, President Kaguta Museveni pledged to support the farmers in the area by providing both piped and gravity water flow scheme, electricity, and livestock, among other social amenities so that other areas can copy from it.