Partnering on school milk in Uganda

Tetra Pak East Africa and Food for Development are working closely with stakeholders to transform the Ugandan dairy industry – to improve nutrition, enhance livelihoods and stimulate economic growth.

With low levels of milk consumption, combined with deficiencies in other key food groups, Uganda has a high prevalence of malnutrition. An estimated 2.3 million children in the country are chronically undernourished and 29 per cent of children under five suffer from stunting. Furthermore, Ugandan schools face poor educational outcomes, with a high level of absenteeism (30 per cent for primary school children) and a low level of conversion from primary to secondary school (25 per cent).

Initiative to improve nutrition and enhance livelihoods

A pilot Uganda School Milk Programme is currently improving both nutrition and educational performance among 50,000 school children by supplying them with safe, nutritious milk. The programme is also creating a predictable demand for dairy products in the local market, enhancing the livelihoods of small holder farmers and stimulating wider economic growth.

The pilot initiative is primarily funded by parents, supported and managed by local dairy processing firms and backed by government policy and resources. Tetra Pak East Africa and Food for Development are also key partners that are driving the objective of establishing a national school milk programme.

In the proposed national programme, four Tetra Pak customers in Uganda will supply the milk: Pearl Dairy, Brookside Dairy, JESA Farm Dairy and Vital Tomosi. The ambition is to create a national school milk programme that can supply domestic milk across the country, including to non-milk-producing regions.

Aseptic technology ensures food safety and quality

The milk is processed and packaged using Tetra Pak’s aseptic technology to help ensure food safety and quality, while providing the children with important nutrition. With aseptic technology, UHT milk can be safely transported to schools without the need for a cold chain as it can be stored at room temperature.

“To improve school children’s health and support their development and school performance is very important for the future of Uganda,” said Jonathan Kinisu, Managing Director Tetra Pak East Africa. “Through great collaboration with our customers, the government and parents, we are able to provide children with much needed nutrition and our UHT technology ensures we can reach rural areas where cold chains are a challenge.”

In August 2023, Tetra Pak East Africa and Food for Development held a School Milk Programme workshop in Uganda to ensure stakeholder alignment and cooperation for scaling up the programme nationally.

Partnering to make a difference

The Uganda School Milk Programme will be essential in improving the health of school children and creating an incentive for them to attend school. In the long term, it will boost literacy rates, drive economic growth and reduce poverty in Uganda. This potential is being unlocked through innovative collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders.

“Pearl is proud to participate in the Uganda School Milk Programme as we strongly believe that this initiative will play a pivotal role in not just addressing the nutritional needs for children but also in sculpting the dairy consumption landscape in Uganda,” said Rohit Rajasekharan, Chief Transformation Officer, Pearl Dairy. “As one of the largest stakeholders in Uganda’s dairy value chain, our purpose is to change the livelihoods of the small holder farmers in Uganda and make a more resilient next generation for Africa by catering to the nutrition needs to today’s children.”