Dairy farming is nothing new to the rural farmers in Gicumbi of Northern Province of Rwanda. Farmers testify that their livelihoods have been improved over the last few years thanks to dairy farming. The dairy farmers are working under a dairy co-operative known as IAKIB.
Flora Uwera, an old woman, is one of the dairy farmers and cooperative members who keeps jersey cows each milking up to 18 liters per day. The dairy farmer, she says, has been supplying the milk production to a nearest Milk Collection Center (MCC) managed by their cooperative and income generated from milk sales has transformed her life.
“With the money generated from milk sales, I have renovated my house, built a biogas system for cooking and lighting, and I use the manure from the cows to fertilize my farms, to mention but a few,” explains Uwera.
The award-winning famer, who started to modernize her dairy farming activities early 2000s, reveals that proper feeding and treatment of her cows is the secret that kept her business flourishing over the years.
Uwera shares a similar story with several cooperative members of IAKIB. The co-operative manages 6 Milk Collection Centers (MCCs) in Gicumbi District, and collects over 65,000 litres of milk per day and supplies Inyange Industries and other buyers.
Agnes Mukangiruwonsanga, the cooperative president, says that apart from transforming their own lives, dairy farming has also enabled them to create jobs ranging from milk collection, to MCCs and cooperative daily management.
The cooperative president says the next target is to start their own milk processing plant in a bid to add value to their milk production; a great initiative that the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, said the government is ready to support.
Minister Mukeshimana, who was on August 19, 2016 in Gicumbi District visiting MMCs and interacting with dairy farmers, promised IAKIB members that the government will provide them with all needed technical support in their venture to start a milk processing plant.
The minister also urged them to keep increasing milk productivity by feeding properly their cows. She also called them on giving milk to their children in a bid to eradicate malnutrition among children.