Livestock Research for Rural Development 27 (7) 2015 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Ghee Consumption in Uganda

A Katimbo#, J E Sempiira#, D J Mugisa# and W S Kisaalita1 2*

Smallholder Fortunes, P.O. Box 30385, Kampala, Uganda;
1 College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda;
2 College of Engineering, University of Georgia, Driftmier Engineering Center, Athens, Georgia 30602 USA; Phone: +1 706-542-0835; Fax: +1 706-652-8806;
# These authors contributed equally to this paper.
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.


In sub-Saharan Africa, women in smallholder dairy operations carry a disproportionate labor burden, especially in making milk products like ghee. In this short communication, a per capita ghee consumption of 1.34 g/day is estimated for Uganda, revealing an order of magnitude gap between the recommended and current consumption. This wide gap suggests increased production opportunities that can only be realized with labor-reducing innovation interventions. Such interventions will not only decrease the labor burden, but will also enhance quality and quantity.

Keywords: poverty, smallholder, traditional processing, Uganda


It is estimated that there are approximately 100 small-scale dairy processors in Uganda who process about 100 to 500 liters of milk per day into ghee, yoghurt, ice cream, cheese, boiled and cooled milk (Sikawa and Mugisha 2012). Large industrial dairy processing is dominated by four firms, including: Jesa Farms, Paramount Dairies, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock, and GBK Dairy Products. In addition to processed milk for local consumption, some of these players produce liquid and powder milk for export. Between 1991 and 2006, the total milk production in Uganda grew from 365 million to over 1.4 billion liters (Sikawa and Mugisha 2012). As shown in Table 1, South-Western and Central regions were responsible for 70% of the milk production in 2007. This lead is attributable to a combination of more favorable climate and cattle-rearing traditions among the inhabitants of these regions. More recent 2012 milk production estimate have been provided by Agriterra (2012) at 1.8 billion liters. This estimate was based on the number of cattle and a steady production growth rate of 8% as reported by Dairy Development Authority (DDA) in 2008 (Agriterra 2012).

According to Wozemba and Nsanja (2008), the milk per capita consumption in urban areas is 48 liters/year, while that in rural areas is 22 liters/year. Agriterra (2012) has provided a slightly higher estimate of 58 liters/person/annum. It should be noted that as with production levels, consumption varies with regions ranging from milk surplus region -western region- 86 liter/person/annum to milk deficit region -eastern region- 43 liter/person/annum. These consumption levels are much lower in comparison to neighboring Kenya at 100 liters/person/annum. Also these consumption levels are well below the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended level of 200 liters/person/year. This gap is fueling investment in this sector that is yielding the 8% production growth rate mentioned above.

Approximately 89% of the farmers sell their milk as is to middlemen or processors. Of the remaining 11%, 9% process milk into ghee mainly for home consumption while 2% make other products particularly yoghurt. Ghee-making presents unique poverty-alleviation opportunities among women smallholder farmers. As we previously reported (Sempiira et al 2015), in sub-Saharan Africa, women in smallholder dairy operations carry a disproportionate labor burden, especially in making traditional fermented milk products like ghee. Ghee-making labor-reduction interventions are projected to not only increase quantities, but to also enhance quality. To be able to position labor-saving interventions in a sustainable way, it is critical to establish the gap between the current and recommend per capita ghee consumption in a manner akin to milk described above. Accurate establishment of per capita ghee consumption requires national-wide comprehensive studies similar to that conducted by Bhasin et al (2009), for ghee consumption in Udaipur City in India. The purpose of this short communication is, in absence of a comprehensive study, to provide a well-reasoned reliable estimate of the per capita ghee consumption gap as a first step.

Table 1. Total milk production in different regions of Uganda¹
Milk produced
Milk available for marketing
Milk production per region
South-Western 1,380,000 966,000 36%
Central 1,300,000 910,000 34%
Northern 575,000 402,500 15%
Mid-Western 306,000 212,200 8%
Eastern 268,000 187,600 7%
Total 3,829,000 2,678,300 100%
¹Source: Wozemba and Nsanja 2008

Analysis and discussion

Seventy percent of the milk produced by both smallholder and commercial farmers is sold and the remaining 30% kept for home consumption (drinking, turn into yoghurt and ghee) as well as calf rearing (Agriterra 2012). Of the 70% milk sold, 80-90% is sold informally in unprocessed form. As such, only 150-160 million liters of the 2012 total 1.7-1.9 billion liters of milk produced annually is purchased by processors (8.4%). The main buyers include small-scale producers of yoghurt, ice cream, and cheese as well as the large industrial processors. We estimate the 2015 milk production of 2.3 billion liters, starting with a 2012 figure of 1.8 billion liters and assuming a growth rate of 8% per year. Assuming 30% of the 2.3 billion liters (690 million liters) is kept at home and 50% of this (345 million liters) is used for ghee-making, the per capita ghee consumption, assuming all ghee produced is consumed, comes to:

[345,000,000 liters/(20 liters per kg ghee)]/ 35 million Ugandans = 0.490 kg/person/year.

The 20 liters milk to 1 kg of ghee and use of the 50% of the stay-home milk used in the above calculation are based on our field experience in the cattle corridor of Uganda (Sempiira et al 2015). The 2015 population of Uganda is estimated to be 35 million by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. On the shelves of urban high-end supermarkets can be found imported ghee products. They are consumed by a very small percentage of the Ugandan population and have been assumed to be negligibly small for inclusion in the above calculation. In per capita units of grams per day, the consumption comes to:

[0.490 kg per year x 1000 g/kg]/365 days per year = 1.34 g/day.

To recommend a desired per capita consumption, we turned to the experience in India, where 100 million tons of milk is produced annually and from which the sub-Saharan African learned the art of making ghee. The ghee per capita consumption in India is approximately 250 g per day (Chawla 2009). It is interesting to note that while milk production in India is growing at a rate of 3% per annum, the ghee consumption is increasing at a rate of 9% per annum (Bhasin 2009), suggesting that the current Indian consumption of 250 g per day is on the increase. Using the Indian per capita ghee consumption as a guide for a potential consumption target (e.g. 25 g/day; order of magnitude lower) for Uganda, reveals a wide consumption gap and as such suggests ghee production growth opportunity, ten-fold the current level, especially among smallholder women farmers. But for this opportunity to be realized, lower production costs through labor-saving tools are needed (Sempiira et al 2015).

Concluding remarks

The best estimate of the average ghee consumption to-date in Uganda is 1.34 grams per day. A reasonable consumption target is 25.0 grams per day.


The authors acknowledge Prof. Noble Banadda and Dr. Nicholas Kiggundu of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering Department, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda for their technical help. This study was partly supported by Smallholder Fortunes (Uganda) and a Phase I Grand Challenge Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Agriterra 2012 Identification of livestock investment opportunities in Uganda. A final report of the study undertaken with financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Bhasin J, Kothari S, Sharma V and Upadhyay B 2009 Consumption pattern of ghee in Udaipur city. Journal of Human Ecology, 25(2): 121-125.

Chawla A 2009 Milk and dairy products in India - production, consumption and exports. http: // Accessed 17 Feb 2015.

Sempiira E J, Katimbo A, Mugisa D J and Kisaalita S W 2015 Ghee-making in the cattle corridor of Uganda. Journal of Food Science (In review).

Sikawa G Y and Mugisha J 2012 Factors Influencing South-Western Uganda dairy farmer’s choice of the milk marketing channel: A case study of Kiruhura district-South Western Uganda, ISSN-0856-9681.

Wozemba D and Nsanja R 2008 Dairy investment opportunities in Uganda. SNV Report.

Received 27 February 2015; Accepted 19 May 2015; Published 2 July 2015

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