The dynamics of dairy production and marketing: A case of smallholder farmers in Central Uganda
Otine, Gloria Amolo
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The dairy sector is one of the critical sectors in the East African Community (EAC) with a high potential for improving food security and welfare. In Uganda, the dairy industry has a good potential but various constraints have limited its full development. Although the constraints affecting dairy smallholder farmers are well recognized in Uganda, this aspect has not been well documented. This study aimed at contributing and filling this information gap. The overarching purpose of this study was therefore to investigate constraints to dairy production and marketing plus the coping strategies in the smallholder dairy farming communities in central Uganda, which have been targeted by the East African Dairy Development Project (EADDP). Using quadrant random selection approach, a total of 450 households were sampled from six hubs targeted by the EADDP. The study utilized a structured questionnaire and the data obtained were subjected to descriptive statistical analysis. Out of the households sampled, 230 had cattle and of these, 38.3% were engaged in dairy production as a business while 61.7% were subsistence producers. The farmers perceived feed scarcity (22%), lack of credit (18%), poor animal performance (15.2%) and diseases (14%) as the main constraints affecting dairy production while low prices (22%), shallow market (21%), transportation (16%) and spoilage (14%) were the main factors affecting milk marketing. The farmers were coping through use of alternative feeds, establishing their own pastures but not preserving feeds. They were also purchasing drugs and treating their own animals. As for marketing, the farmers had adopted direct delivery, vending and contractual arrangements with catering institutions. Collective action (cooperatives) and milk processing were on small scale. Milk marketing in the area was predominantly informal and fragmented with only 5% of the producers selling through dairy cooperatives. Farmers should be trained in pasture management as well as animal health care, milking, milk handling and testing. They should also form cooperatives to strengthen their position in the liberalized market. Stakeholders in the dairy value chain should develop local hubs (centres) of dairy business delivery services in the communities. More chilling plants should be put in place and more efforts should be taken nationally to boost milk consumption.