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Master of Agribusiness

Milk Quality Analysis in Southwestern Uganda

Hamid Rutaro, Menomonie, WI, defended his thesis, “Milk Quality Analysis in Southwestern Uganda,” on April 9th. He is a Regional Sales Manager for AgSource Cooperative Services a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International (CRI).  Rutaro is a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

The dairy industry in Uganda plays a prominent role in the livelihoods of approximately 1.7 million farming families.  It contributes about 9% of total agriculture GDP and plays an important role as a source of food, income and employment.  The industry also has a positive outlook due to the increasing demand as incomes rise in Uganda and the East African region.

“Despite all of these positives for the dairy industry in Uganda, smallholder dairy farmers in Uganda are faced with some major challenges including livestock diseases, seasonal fluctuation in the quality and quantity of feed and water, low genetic potential for milk production, inadequate milk collection and marketing infrastructure, limited knowledge and skills, and milk quality issues,” Rutaro said. “When the milk quality is perceived as low, it is hard to compete with imported ‘high-quality’ milk and producers are less likely to invest in technology to enhance their quality.”

For his Master of Agribusiness thesis, Rutaro visited dairies and milk collection centers in Southwestern Uganda to assess milk quality by testing the somatic cell count (SCC). He also interviewed dairy farmers in the region to understand their perception of milk quality.

Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rutaro’s thesis advisor, said, “This thesis makes a contribution to the knowledge about milk quality in Uganda and provides a path to enhancing it. Improving producer knowledge about their SCC is a very important step forward, and Hamid started us on the path.”

Testing at the milk collection centers showed 93% of the milk had an average SSC of 276,000 cells/ml. For comparison, the European standard for milk is less than 400,000 cells/ml.

“The study revealed that milk quality in Uganda is better than the perception. This is important because such information was not previously available. The lower SCC may mean better returns to dairy farmers and will encourage them to continue improving,” Rutaro said.

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/19011.