In Summary
  • After attending a Heifer International Uganda project which mainly aims at helping farmers engage in value addition, Brian Kabega is making money by processing milk into yoghurt, writes Lominda Afedraru

A Luwero District dairy farmer, Brian Kabega, a graduate in Dairy Industry and Business from Makerere University is reaping from milk after adding value to it to produce yoghurt.
Kabega who lives in Luwero District, says the doors of prosperity were opened to him in 2014 after completing a short course at Bukalasa Agricultural College in Animal Production and Management.

Kabega reveals he conceived the idea of producing yoghurt in 2014 after completing school and attending a short course organised by Heifer International Uganda.
The project helps smallholder farmers engage in value addition.
“After university, Heifer International Uganda through a project Fermented Food for Life dealing in yoghurt culture products, encouraged us to embrace the business and earn a better living,” he recalls.
After that engagement, Kabega collected some money from family and friends to buy a locally made yoghurt processing plant which includes two big saucepans and a thermometer.
With the plant installed at his parent’s home, Kabega was left with just Shs45,000 which he used to buy milk from dairy farmers in Luwero.
“I started small. The yoghurt made on my first attempt was distributed free of charge to town dwellers of Luwero who would return to buy when real production started,” he explains.

The process
“I have since graduated to four big saucepans, two cans and a thermometer. The thermometer helps me to read the temperatures while the production process is underway,” he said.
For one to process good yoghurt the milk quality must also be good and it must not be diluted with water.
It is then boiled with heat vapour from boiling water because when it is boiled directly it reduces the life span.
“Boil it up to 60 degrees Celsius and apply sugar but for sugar free yoghurt you can avoid this stage. You can then heat it up to 85 degrees Celsius and allow it to cool up to 45 degrees Celsius.
You can then apply culture which is in powder form and cover it for 12 hours to allow pasteurisation to occur. Later, you can apply whatever flavour is suitable ranging from chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, passion, mango and you pack it for commercialisation,” Kabega reveals.

Kabega has established a chain of market in Luwero District. “I supply my yoghurt to supermarkets that pay on a weekly basis. We also sell big to students and walk-ins,” he notes. He packs his yoghurt in 150 millilitres to five litre packs. 150 millilitres cost Shs1,000 while five litres go for Shs30,000.

Kabega reveals the business has since sprouted and today he is able to process 80 litres of milk into yoghurt.
“The business is booming every day farmers bring in milk and we buy it a subsided fee,” says Kabega who confirms he is able to save Shs200,000 per month from his smallholder processing plant.

Kabega has been able to expand his business using the profits from monthly sales.
He is also planning to buy a car to transport his products to the various market centres in Luwero Town and Nakasongola District.

More often, Kabega gets issues with his distributors who sell milk diluted with water. He also has challenges in debt collections. “Most supermarkets are cheats. They take our products and default on payment,” he observes.

Choosing milk, starter culture
Making yoghurt at home for you and your family is fun, easy and can save you a lot of money in the long run! To make yoghurt at home, all you need is bacteria (also known as a yogurt starter culture) and milk.
Even better, yoghurt making does not require any specialised equipment.
Choosing yoghurt milk
You have several options when it comes to selecting a yoghurt starter culture and type of milk to use to make yoghurt at home. While the basic process for making yoghurt at home is the same for all types of yoghurt starters and milk (simply add the bacteria to the milk and let it culture) there are some degrees to using different yoghurt starters and milk.
When choosing a yoghurt starter, consider how each type works, and choose the one that best fits your lifestyle. Some starter cultures are direct-set or single-use, meaning each packet of starter will make one batch of yogurt. Other starter cultures are heirloom or reusable, meaning that you can make yoghurt over and over again by using a bit of yoghurt from your previous batch as a starter.
When choosing milk for making yoghurt, take into consideration how the milk will interact with the yoghurt starter culture and affect the yoghurt’s final thickness and texture. For non-dairy milk you will need to use a vegan starter culture which is common on the market. Depending on the yoghurt starter culture you select, you may need to apply heat to your milk to prepare it for culturing. The procedure for culturing a batch of mesophilic yogurt with pasteurized milk does not require any heat.

Proper care of dairy cow improves milk production

Dairy cows whether exotic, hybrid or crossbred if not taken good care of in terms of feeding, housing and protection against diseases can remain unproductive dwindling the farmer’s income.
Large scale and longtime dairy farmers consider balance diet as a must for their cows which is the right feed in the right amount and at the right time.
These farmers understand the role of Napier grass as fodder for animals. However, feeding their cows on Napier grass, little pasture and water, banana leaves and such like is improper diet in dairy farming.
Napier grass for example is one of the best and reliable fodder for livestock, but farmers should know that about 70 to 80 per cent of this fodder is composed of water, meaning that the animals gets only 20 to 30 per cent dry matter.
“Besides selecting good breeds, proper feeding, housing and handling of dairy cows are sure ways of getting good yields and income. A good breed that receives good feed and clean water, proper housing and gentle care gives more milk and money while a poorly managed one gives less milk and the farmer incurs huge veterinary expenses that reduce profits,” said Dr David Michuki of Dao Chem company- the company which manufactures varieties of Vitamark livestock salt.
Experts advise that dairy cows especially of 400Kilogrammes should be fed with about 15Kilogrammes of dry matter of fodder. This means that if you were to feed your cow on Napier grass, molasses, maize and wheat germ or any other grass fodder such should be of three feet on because this length of fodder grass has enough dry matter and less water hence adequate nutrition.
Kaganda Mathias is one of the leading smallholder dairy farmer in Njeru town which is adjacent to the Nile Breweries Limited (NBL)plant. He has been feeding his dairy cows on beer by-products. “Feeling the big stomachs of my cows is not a simple task, I get other feeds from pasture grasses, fodder and my home-made silage that enables me to cater for their basal diet,” said Kaganda.After a cow has been given food reach in proteins, vitamins and energy water is key. It comprises more than half the weight of an adult dairy cow which should be given 60 litres of water per day.