Traditional Cheese Making? A solution to improving rural farmers income?

By Karamagi Akiiki Ednah

In Uganda Cheese is referred to as a food for the well to do in society. Even so, not many people in this catagory consider this as a supplement in their diet and yet it is very nutritious and better still, can be made at home locally. Probably this can be attributed to ignorance of the various creative ways in which cheese can be used.
Cheese can be used in baking, making soups, as a snack, salads, a plain meal supplement and even as a full meal. This is what i have got to learn during the women farmers traditional cheese making workshop under the hospice of iPWO, a project of CoRFiLac.

I may not state authoritatively that i know where cheese making began; but an interesting story to tell is that the birth of cheese dates back all the way to 6000 BC in Mesopotamia, which is today Iraq. According to a myth, it was an accidental discovery by a mysterious Arab. To prepare for his journey through the desert, this Arab stored milk into a saddlebag, which was made out of the stomach of an animal. Midway through his trip, the man noticed that the milk had formed into curds and whey. Although the man did not know this then, this was due to the rennin, a coagulating enzyme released from the saddlebag. The heat of the desert sun and the rocking movement of his horse had caused the milk to separate into curds and whey. The Arab found it quite suitable for eating, and the rest is ancient history.

Today, Cheese is produced in many developing and emerging countires as well. Among the cattle keepers, it forms an integral part of their diet and often surpluses sold of as additional household income. It is made from milk. That is as far as i can go … the rest, various traditions have dictated on what is added to make it into cheese. Still, basic other ingredients can all be got locally – rennet, salt and need for a cool place. These, to the advantage of the rural farmer, can be obtained locally. Also, the cost of just 100gms of cheese in the local supermarket can be obtained at 3500/=. This is too high for an average income earner and yet bumper profit fetching for the producer. It is important to note that the cost of production though does not justify this high cost; in my view, it is because of the presence of monopoly in the production market.
There is need for the farmers to realise the need to invest in this lucrative industry so as to reduce the prevailing monopoly status as well as improve on avenues to increase on our food nitrition at an affordable cost. If they place the price lower, ceterius peribus, they make the product more affordable thereby calling for more consumers.

Cheese is not time consuming and yet lucrative to the producer and nutritious to the consumer

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