Lato Milk, the leading dairy processor in Uganda, has launched a new initiative called “Project Prosperity” which is expected to facilitate the local farmers to earn more, and improve their families’ prosperity.
The project already endorsed by leading international companies and institutions like IFC, PSFU, SNV, universities such as the University of Southern California, and the Dairy Development Authority of Uganda, is aimed at mitigating the gaps in farm productivity and enhancing profitability for smallholder farmers in Uganda, starting with the dairy industry.
According to Akash Kumar the co-founder of Pearl Dairy Farms, the average milk production of cattle in Uganda is curently about 5–6 litres per day, whereas cows in more advanced nations like New Zealand and the Netherlands can produce 20 litres or more.
Speaking during the launch in Mbarara City on Wednesday, Mr. Kumar said the lost opportunity in Uganda’s dairy industry is concerning since farmers lose up to 15,000 Ugandan shillings per cow per day.
He noted that improved yields would bring prosperity to farming families, create more interest in farming for future generations and triple their income. With community support, Kumar says this project can be a game-changer not only for dairy farmers in Uganda and Kenya but for other farmers throughout Africa.
Uganda is the largest exporter of milk on the continent today thanks to the farmers in Uganda and also the efforts made in taking Ugandan milk to the region.
The CEO of Pearl Daily Farms, Amit Sagar, says markets are growing; “Remember, in Africa, the population is growing. We are doubling every 15 to 20 years. Milk consumption is growing, and effectively, there’s a huge demand.”
“Therefore, the markets are growing, and we need to increase capacity. And that’s why we’re also now building a new factory to increase capacity. So, we’ll now double our capacity in the next year so that we can cater to this growing demand” Amit stated.
He noted that when the factory started, the average price of milk was around 400 shillings a litre but average price of milk for the past three years has been over 1,100 shillings a litre which is a significant success.
“The farmer today in Uganda gets paid three times what he used to get paid before Pearl Dairy came in. That has effectively tripled the income because they’re getting more for the same litre of milk” he said.
Having spent over a decade in the region as a dairy processor, Lato has a wide range of dairy products to supply and works closely with smallholder dairy farmers – over 10,000 in Uganda and 5,000 in Kenya, Lato is uniquely positioned to connect international organizations with resources and the intent to share them with smallholder dairy farmers who lack the tools and expertise to approach them.
Jane Tayebwa, a dairy farmer who has done this all her life, says that with improved pasture, she can produce more milk, thus increasing the income. This same story is shared with Kabandize Laban who said his cpws have been moving close to 10 kilo metres a day for water. With water traffic from Pearl Dairy Farm, he can produce between 80 and 100 litres of milk a day.
Lato says Project Prosperity is a gateway to deliver this connection and plans to launch an Agri-fintech platform to digitize the initiative. The platform will help identify the neediest farmers and connect them with willing institutions ready to help.
Kumar says the project team has already collected data for 1,000 dairy farmers in Uganda and is delivering a pilot program to finalize the learnings about basic challenges and hidden opportunities before launching the digital application.