KAGERA Regional Commissioner (RC), Brig Gen Marco Gaguti, has appealed to residents in the area to drink milk regularly and ensure they also give milk to their children to improve their health status.
“People should change attitude and consume more milk. Focus should be on children, especially those aged below five years, who need milk to develop their brains,” he insisted.
He also cautioned people against consuming milk from unknown sources, instead they should get it from authorised milk processing plants to avoid contracting diseases, including tuberculosis (TB).
He noted that a national survey revealed that Kagera Region was on top among 10 regions in Mainland Tanzania where malnutrition stood at 39 per cent children aged below five years.
Other regions include; Dodoma, Mwanza, Kigoma, Mbeya, Dar es Salaam, Geita, Tabora, Ruvuma and Lindi.
“Parents, especially women, should be educated on the importance of early breastfeeding. There is an urgent need to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are very crucial. The brain develops rapidly, laying the foundation for future cognitive and social ability,” he said.
Mr Gaguti noted that while the national milk consumption on average stood at 47 litres per year, the regional milk intake average stood at only 16 litres per year, while the global average stood at 200 litres per year.
He noted that milk production in the region had increased from 43,915,266 litres during 2014/15 to 46,858,481 litres during 2015/216.
Between July and December last year milk production stood at 21,141,709 litres, attributing the trend to a prolonged dry spell experienced in the region. According to him, the region has about 21,438 dairy cattle.
Mr Gaguti elaborated further that Tanzania was implementing a plan to invest in milk consumption from the current 47 litres per person annually to 60 litres in 2018 and 100 litres by 2025.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommends a person to consume at least 200 litres of milk annually.