Open for Business: Rwandan National Dairy Board and Dairy Quality Assurance Laboratory

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The USAID Dairy Competitiveness (UDC) Project, in partnership with Land O’Lakes International Development, has just launched the Rwanda National Dairy Board (RNDB) and a new Dairy Quality Assurance Laboratory (DQAL) located just outside the capital of Kigali. The space was generously donated by the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA), and is located at the Bull Station in Masaka, on the outskirts of the Rwandan capital.

I used to think that water was the true glue that held everything in the world together. But seeing what everyone here is doing today, I realize that you have tapped into something perhaps equally important with dairy.

The USAID Dairy Competitiveness (UDC) Project, in partnership with Land O’Lakes International Development, has just launched the Rwanda National Dairy Board (RNDB) and a new Dairy Quality Assurance Laboratory (DQAL) located just outside the capital of Kigali. The space was generously donated by the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA), and is located at the Bull Station in Masaka, on the outskirts of the Rwandan capital.

The establishment of both facilities marks a key achievement for the USAID Dairy Competitiveness Project and Land O’Lakes, as these entities set the stage for the growth of a sustainable and prosperous Rwandan dairy industry that promotes quality dairy products and fosters an enabling environment for milk producers, processors and sellers. UDC also recently established a purchasing agreement with Inyange Processors that will pay farmers and milk collection centers working through the project with higher premiums for raw milk that meets quality standards, which will be checked through DQAL.

A number of Rwandan and U.S. government officials attended the event, as did a wide array of Rwandans from across the dairy sector. Among the speakers included U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Stuart Symington, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resource’s Permanent Secretary Ernest Ruzindaza, Rwanda National Dairy Board Chairman Emmanuel Ndahiro, and Land O’Lakes International Development’s Country Manager for Rwanda, Dave Peters. Over 100 people were in attendance to celebrate the launch, including officials from USAID and members of Rwanda’s Dairy Sector Working Group.

“I used to think that water was the true glue that held everything in the world together,” noted Ambassador Symington at the launch. “But seeing what everyone here is doing today, I realize that you have tapped into something perhaps equally important with dairy.”

Following a ribbon-cutting, the Ambassador and other visitors were able to view for themselves the well-equipped raw milk testing equipment at the DQAL facility, which was relocated and revamped from its original grounds in the northeast region of Nyagatare. They also learned about the important work already underway by the Rwanda National Dairy Board to create a competitive environment for Rwanda’s dairy industry, promote improved incomes for dairy farmers, and move the industry towards export potential.

Since 2007, the USAID Dairy Competitiveness (UDC) implemented by Land O’Lakes has enabled the dairy sector to compete and thrive at both national and district levels. Focusing on Nyagatare and Gatsibo Districts in Eastern Province, the project has been making incremental improvements all along the value chain that boost milk quality, make processing more efficient, and improve the industry’s competitiveness in local and export markets. Through funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UDC is also helping to increase the productivity and profitability of dairy farms owned by people living with HIV/AIDS and improving dairy-based nutrition for orphans and vulnerable children.

Comprised of milk producers, processors and sellers, RNDB will play a catalytic role of fostering market growth, monitoring industry trends, facilitating coordination among stakeholders, and helping the entire dairy industry – from farmers to processors, and from sellers to consumers – to reach their full potential.

Meanwhile, DQAL is equipped with the best possible equipment for testing milk quality, and offers a vast a range of services that will enable producers, processors and all who seek to use the lab with the quality assurance services they need at an affordable price. The lab will offer nearly 30 different tests, ranging from tests for microbiological organisms, somatic cell counts and acidity, to those for raw milk components, mastitis and field testing of cows.

Land O'Lakes is the second largest food and agricultural cooperative in the United States doing business in all 50 states. Building on the company’s 90 years of agribusiness cooperative heritage, Land O'Lakes International Development works as a not-for-profit division, and has implemented over 260 programs in 76 countries since 1981. Visit http://www.landolakesinc.com to learn more.

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Jeanne Forbis
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