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Rwanda, India agreement spur innovation in dairy sector

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Some of the 200 cows donated to residents of Rweru in Bugesera District by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday – a gesture he said was in support of President Kagame’s Girinka national programme. Village Urugwiro. BY The News Times 

Local dairy farmers have identified areas they would like the Agriculture cooperation agreement signed between Rwanda and India to address.

The Rwandan government Tuesday signed a raft of pacts, with India including a cooperation agreement in agriculture.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural Research and Education between Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and India Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) that aims to develop the dairy sector through research and capacity development.

While agricultural officials have expressed say that the agreement will spur innovation in the dairy sector and boost milk production, some farmer have received the news with caution.

“They should expect other additional skills which will help them to know how to increase the productivity of their animals,” Patrick Karangwa the acting Director of RAB said.

India has an advanced agricultural sector with mechanised farming and developed livestock industry.

Partnering with Rwanda would increase the number of local livestock experts who can help dairy farmers to increase productivity and add value to their products.

“We expect to learn from India’s rich experience.  It’s somehow strategic to have a link with people who have something tangible to share in a specific field,” Karangwa said.

Milk production has exponentially grown to around 700,000 tonnes of milk in 2017.

John Malidadi, a farmer from Rwimiyaga sector in Nyagatare District said dairy industry can do better.

One of the persistent challenges, he said, is the imported cows which struggle to adapt to the local environment and easily fall sick.

“Research needs to be conducted to find ways that imported breeds to create local hybrids adapt easily to our environment,” he said.

The other area is cattle feeds which are expensive and the supply is inconsistent.

“During the rainy season, milk supply is high and farmers can not sell all their produce. And during the dry season, there is no sufficient milk because cows can’t find enough food. We want a dairy industry which produces consistently from January to December,” he suggested.

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