Heifer International supports Uganda's dairy industry with alternative power

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Heifer International supports Uganda's dairy industry with alternative power
Dwaniro Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society Limited Manager at the cooperative premises in Kiboga.

Heifer International has partnered with Carbon Trust under the Powering Renewable Energy Opportunities (PREO) programme to implement  the solar for sustainable income project in the dairy industry to provide alternative power, specifically solar-powered rural milk chilling solutions, at the dairy cooperative level across Uganda.

The first to benefit from the project was Migina Milk Collection Centre, a satellite milk bank for Dwaniro Dairy and Livestock Farmers Cooperative Limited in Kiboga district.

Heifer officially commissioned a 41.4 kilowatt-peak (kWp) photovoltaic (PV) solar system for the Migina Milk Collection Centre in August 2023.

Before the solar system was installed, the cooperative relied on generators as its source of power and, as a result, used to spend $30,000 annually on servicing, maintaining and fueling the machines.

The unreliability of the generators and high maintenance fees resulted in high operating costs for the cooperative and, in turn, lower prices offered to farmers for their milk.

According to the World Bank, only 28 percent of Uganda’s population had access to electricity in 2018. This lack of access has significant implications for economic development and quality of life, as it limits opportunities for businesses and makes it difficult for individuals to access basic services like healthcare and education.

For dairy farmers, a lack of electricity makes it difficult to keep milk chilled, and many rely on diesel generators, which emit high volumes of carbon and are expensive to maintain.

“Generators are serviced by technicians outside the operational areas. The time lag between generator troubleshooting activities led to milk losses worth $2,500 in spoilage,” said Edna Nyamwaka, Heifer project manager, referring to the cooperative’s substantial monthly losses.

“The reliable source of power results in good quality milk, which fetches a good market price from the off-taker [buyer]. This, in turn, enables the cooperative to pay farmers well. "

In December 2023, a second solar power system was commissioned for Nabitanga Dairy Cooperative located in Ssembabule District, Central Uganda, and in February 2024, a third solar system was commissioned for Kiryanyonza Milk Collection Centre, a second satellite milk bank for Dwaniro Dairy and Livestock Farmers Cooperative Limited.

"With these in place, the cooperatives are expecting savings resulting from less milk spoilage and eliminating the expenses of generator fuel and maintenance, along with less carbon emissions from generator use, creating efficiency, a clean environment, safer and cleaner milk, and more volumes of milk collected for sale. Milk prices fluctuate,” said Nyamwaka.

“In the wet season prices are low, and dry season prices are high. The reliable source of power results in good quality milk, which fetches a good market price from the off-taker [buyer]. This, in turn, enables the cooperative to pay farmers well.”

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