It was a full house at the first ever dairy Partnership Forum organised by SNV Uganda as stakeholders converged in the town of Mbarara in Western Uganda to share experiences and reflect on lessons from The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise (TIDE) project practice.
The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise (TIDE) Project is a four-year project funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Uganda with SNV as the lead implementer. The project’s overall goal is to reduce poverty by improving dairy farm incomes, household nutrition and employment opportunities for 20,000 farmers.
“Agriculture is not a hobby or pastime, it is a business,” H.E Dutch ambassador Henk Jan Bakker said during the partnership forum. His statement was echoed by the keynote speaker Andrew Mwenda, the Managing Editor of the Independent publication who called for increased investment by Government in the dairy sector. “The best way for our country to get out of poverty is to ensure that we are able to sustain GDP and per capita growth over a long period of time. For Uganda to sustain growth rate in agriculture it must introduce technological innovation and invest in dairy processing and manufacturing. This requires significant investment which cannot be borne by local investors alone,” Andrew added.
A cross section of stakeholders who attended the forum
Currently 12 million Ugandans (approximately 34% of Uganda’s population) depend on dairy. However like many Ugandans (over 60%) most are engaged in subsistence agriculture. The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise is working with private sector actors, government and farmers to improve: dairy farm productivity; the quality of commercial milk; dairy household and school nutrition and advocate for pro-active dairy sector regulation in the districts of Bushenyi, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ntungamo, and Sheema in South Western Uganda.
The TIDE partnership forum attracted over 100 participants from the private sector, NGOs, donor agencies, government, cooperatives, individual and farmer groups. Parallel sessions were organised where stakeholders explored different innovations from the private sector on animal nutrition and feeding, new modalities of improving the efficiency of artificial insemination, animal breeding, how to improve the quality of milk, how to improve extension services and strengthen cooperative societies and school nutrition.