Ikivuguto is a popular fermented milk product in Rwanda. Communities across the country have been producing ikivuguto for centuries. Elsewhere in the world, there is evidence that production of fermented milk products dates back to 10,000 B.C. There are different types of cultured milk products in the market today. These include butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and ghee.
Cattle ownership is in the core of Rwanda’s cultural fabric. In traditional societies, a cow was a symbol of wealth. In today’s cash-driven economy, a cow continues to upgrade standards of living. From skin and hide to hoofs and cow dung, everything a cow produces turns into gold. However, the symbolic and nutritional value of milk transcends the rest. Milk is a vital source of nutrition. In addition, this iconic beverage extends its economic benefits to farmers, processors, transporters, retailers and other actors in the supply chain.
Giramata (may you have milk) is a popular name in the society while girinka (may you have a cow) is a common greeting which is synonymous to best wishes. There are many other names, phrases, idioms, sayings and a litany of flattering expressions that draw inspiration from the cow’s prestigious position in the society. Furthermore, a cow is featured prominently in traditional poetry and dance.
At Urugo WOC, value addition solutions are applied to improve the quality of dairy products and increase their lifespan. Raw milk is procured from the neighboring collection centers. According to Fred Gahigana, who serves as the production manager, Urugo buys about 1,000 liters of milk from the collection centers every day. This milk is used to produce both ikivuguto and yogurt.
At the production unit, it’s women from the local community who do all the work after their successful completion of their training programs. Their industrious careers are proof that with the appropriate skills development programs, the underprivileged women in rural areas can lift themselves out of poverty.
Urugo Ikivuguto is packaged in different sizes. It is distributed in the Eastern Province and Kigali. From humble beginnings, the brand is increasingly improving the livelihoods of women and communities in Kayonza area and beyond.