Originally published on October 9, 2014.
Improving quality for a perishable good that spoils quickly—milk— requires access to disease-resistant livestock, a dairy farmer’s clean hands, rapid product transportation, hygienic processing, and adequately-refrigerated distribution centers. In the Rubavu district of Rwanda, which shares a border with Democratic Republic of Congo, this process does not necessarily come easily given the 1994 genocide that claimed an estimated million lives and destroyed the country’s economy. Damaged during the conflict, the dairy sector lags behind and technical assistance is needed so that farmers can produce quality milk.
The Seal of Quality Kits in addition to the training on milk testing, handling and quality has enormously boosted our dairy business.
Mr. Bosco Musafiri is manager of Kivu Dairy. His company is a client of the Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Program II (RDCP II), a project designed to integrate stakeholders into a functioning dairy value chain—from the farm level to the end-user’s point of sale. The Seal of Quality Program, an initiative of RDCP II, was launched in May 2013, Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, the program grants Seal of Quality kits containing milk testing equipment to 31 dairy cooperatives and five milk processers across Rwanda. “It has enormously boosted our dairy business,” says Musafiri. “The kits brought us new and better technology to help differentiate between good and bad milk.”
“Now, we offer price-based incentives to encourage farmers to deliver high quality milk, which attains a higher price for the farmer,” says Mr. Musafiri. Although the Seal of Quality has only been active with Kivu four months, current outcomes are promising. Kivu increased by 50 percent the milk volumes collected daily, from 800 liters to 1,200 liters. Additionally, Kivu’s interest-free credit arrangement has allowed 30 farmers to acquire hygienic, stainless steel milk cans. Improved milk quality and quantity gave Inyange Industries, Rwanda’s largest milk buyer, based outside the Rwandan capital of Kigali, the confidence to contract with Kivu Dairy, to supply 1,500 liters of clean milk daily. This has provided a welcome and worthwhile income boost for Kivu’s milk suppliers.