Agribusiness

Dairy sectors asked not to hide standards under Made-in-Rwanda umbrella

Samuel Ndori, a cheese maker in Rubavu District, said he was driven out of business because of the cheap substandard cheese on the market.

The dairy market players have been asked to keep the bar high in terms of the standards of dairy products, not to drop the ball. With the involvement of Made-in-Rwanda move, there could be a propensity for the dairy producers to compromise on their products to protect their consumers.

The drive too would be a significant massive one that revolves around remaining competitive in the regional and international markets.

The Director General of Rwanda Standards Board, Raymond Murenzi, said this while addressing key players in the dairy sector at a national consultative meeting in Kicukiro District, on Wednesday.

Key players were called upon to observe cleanliness, use the right equipment and attain certification of their products from Rwanda Standards Board so as to access market and remain competitive.

At least six out of 23 companies in production of dairy products were identified as meeting the required standards.

Up to 17 companies comply with the minimum requirements, whereas several others were said to be operating underground, unknown to either RSB or Rwanda National Dairy Platform (RNDP).

The chairperson of Rwanda National Dairy Platform, Florence Musiime Umurungi, said that it is impressive to have many people join the dairy sector.

She also urged professionalism.

Giving an example of cheese makers, Umurungi said that there were 65 companies in Rwanda that were making cheese but only about 10 companies had a pasteuriser that helps in making the product.

“It is amazing to see how many companies produce cheese even when it is expensive to make it. Most of these people do not have the right equipment but in some way, they produce cheese,” said Umurungi.

She, however, encouraged the companies to comply with the standards or face closure.

She also reminded consumers to be keen on the quality of products they buy.

“We would rather have a few companies supply Rwandans with proper products than have many forging their way to make quick money in this business, only to endanger the lives of our people and the sector as well,” she added.

Samuel Ndori, a cheese maker in Rubavu District, said he was driven out of business because of the cheap substandard cheese on the market.

“When these fake cheese products were brought onto the market, my clients started to complain about the cost of my products and actually claimed that I was cheating them,” said Ndori.

He said considering all the ingredients, electricity and equipment used to make cheese, his product cost Rwf5,000.

However today, there is cheese on the market which costs as low as Rwf1,200 since the makers do not observe the right procedures to make it, he added.

Umurungi said that within a month, RNDP, RSB and other sector officials will conduct an inspection, whereby qualified companies will be identified as well as close down companies that do not meet the minimum requirements.

A standard price for cheese will be set for all the sellers and a list of the certified companies made public to supermarkets and hotels for them to identify the right companies to deal with, according to Umurungi.

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