By Leonard Nshimiyimana
Between 600-700 policy and decision makers from 40 countries are expected to converge in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, from on 31st August to 2nd September this year to attend the international dairy conference and exhibition.
The high-level dairy event to be held at Kigali Convention Center under the theme “African dairy, the future begins here,” aims to come up with new strategies for milk production, improved quality, trade and market accessibility.
The meeting will attract a number of dairy industry stakeholders such as livestock farmers, distributors, processors, dairy products manufacturers as well as owners of big dairy companies from across the world where they will exchange experiences and challenges in the sector.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Jean Claude Kayisinga said, “This meeting is a great opportunity for our dairy farmers to learn from their peers, discuss and debate the critical issues surrounding a sustainable dairy sector development from farm to consumer; to showcase to investing world the investment opportunities in the dairy industries in the country.”
Also, on the sidelines of this conference, over 100 exhibitors from around the world are due to showcase their technologies, products as well as their achievements as key to inspiring smallholder dairy farmers still struggling to beef up dairy production.
As far as Rwanda is concerned, it is doing well in the milk production-thanks to various policies put in place by Government. These include among others, the one cow per poor family initiative locally known “Girinka” which was launched by President Paul Kagame in 2006 to fight malnutrition and lift thousands of vulnerable families out of poverty.
Over 240,000 have since been donated to needy families across the country. This partly saw annual milk production soar from 50,000 liters in 2000 to over 700,000 liters in 2015.
Statistics gathered by Ministry of Agriculture (Minagri) indicate that dairy production contributed more or less Rwf80 billion ($129.7 million) in 2015 contributing to the 6% Gross Domestic product share from agriculture sector.
The survey carried out by the East African Dairy Development (EADD) in 2013 showed that one third of Rwandans don’t consume milk products. To overturn this trend, marketing campaign for milk consumption seemed to come in handy.
In this respect, the government introduced one cup of milk per child locally dubbed “Inkongoro y’umwana” reaching up to 85,000 children learning in 112 schools around 14 Districts of the country.
Rwanda projected to scale up improved dairy cattle from 1.33 million cows with only 28 percent of improved dairy cows in 2013 to 1.67 million in 2017 and produce 650 million liters of milk to meet the demand of milk consumption needed amounting to 13 percent increase.
Apart from this international conference, Rwanda has recently hosted prominent agricultural meetings including the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and AFRACA- a regional association of Sub-Saharan financial and non-financial institutions involved in promoting rural and agricultural finance in Africa.