Uganda: Drought drives up milk prices

Since November last year, most of the districts in the Rwenzori sub-region have been experiencing drought and this has affected milk production. As a result, milk prices have soared, especially in Fort Portal town.

Farmers now move long distances with their animals in search of pastures and water due to their (farmers’) failure to adapt to new technologies of making hay and silage for the dry seasons. The grasses are dry and they cannot enable cows produce enough milk.

Mr Bernard Tibesigwa, the production manager at Tooro dairy, an outlet for farmers in Kabarole, says the quantity of milk supplied by farmers has reduced drastically in the last four months due to lack of good pasture.

“We used to get between 3,700 and 3,800 litres of milk from farmers per day but now the supply has dropped to 1,250 to 1,350 litres per day due to lack of pastures,” Mr Tibesigwa said.

Extent of effect

He said this has led to an increase of prices of milk from Shs1,200 to Shs1,500 per litre in Fort Portal town. He said prices are likely to rise to Shs2,000 if the current situation prevails.

“We have 70 farmers who supply us milk but the quantity of supply has reduced and yet the consumption is still high. This has really affected us because we have many outlets in Bundibugyo, Kasese, Kasusu, Mpanga, Kisenyi, among others, and they have been affected too since we have reduced on the litres we supply to them,” Tibesigwa said.

He added: “We used to run to Ankole (Kiruhura and Rushere districts) for milk supply in case of shortages but three weeks ago, we went there but spent about three days without even collecting 3,000 litres of milk because of drought that has hit the districts too.”

Mr Edward Basaliza, the Tooro Dairy Co-operative Society Limited board chairperson, says this is the first time Fort Portal is experiencing milk shortage because of weather hazards.

“There is need to sensitise farmers to adapt to the new technologies of making hay and silage for future to avoid losses,” he said.

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