Strengthening the Enabling Environment for a Well-Functioning Dairy Market System
Milk is a fragile commodity. Cleanliness, proper storage, temperature control – any mishandling from farm to processor could cause contamination or bacteria counts to rise, resulting in spoiled milk and a spoiled market system. Only a few years ago, many Rwandan farmers simply couldn’t reliably deliver substantial quantities of milk to buyers. And without a reliable supply, farmers suffered to make an income, as did every part across the dairy value chain.
From 2012-2017, with funding from USAID, the Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Program II (RDCP II) through Land O’Lakes International Development focused on several key pillars to increasing competitiveness – one of them being the enabling environment. To ensure sustainability, RDCP II worked closely with the Rwanda Government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Standards and Certification Services (RALIS), local governments and dairy industry players to ensure efforts were inclusive, locally-led and well-communicated.
Such efforts contributed to improved alignment between market participants and paved the way to reach ambitious targets set by RALIS in the areas of dairy production, productivity and milk quality. This includes the launch and implementation of a Ministerial Order on milk collection, transportation and selling. This Ministerial Order provided regulatory support for safe, high quality products, including Rwanda’s first Seal of Quality certification program for dairy value chain actors. To support compliance of the certification standards, RDCP II complemented policy efforts with practical quality trainings and capacity building for government officials, farmers, milk collection centers, processors, milk kiosks and transporters.
Since the project closed in January 2017, this Ministerial Order continues to be implemented by all concerned milk chain actors. Because of an inclusive and well-thought out Ministerial Order, along with effective communications campaigns, the industry has seen reductions in the number of milk rejections along the value chain. Yields and incomes have increased, and an estimated 73 percent of milk is being marketed under the Seal of Quality in Rwanda.
“Had the Ministerial Order not happened, there would be a disorder in the milk sector, no investment in milk value chain, low level of milk safety and no competition in milk sector,” says Beatrice Uwumukiza, the Director-General of Agriculture and Livestock Standards and Certification Services.
Moving forward, MINAGRI/RALIS will continue to monitor implementation of the Ministerial Order and will work to increase awareness of this and related standards.
“This project deepened our understanding of the importance of combining market incentives with government policy – it’s a powerful combination that we look to reinforce and build in the work we do moving forward,” says Greg Grothe, Senior Manager of Technical Practice Areas and Partnerships with Land O’Lakes International Development.