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Building strategic alliances for sustainable dairy production

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Local dairy farmers milking cows and transporting fresh milk to Milk Collection Centres of FrieslandCampina WAMCO in Iseyin, Oyo State.

Nigeria is believed to have an estimated 19.7 million cattle and is also the biggest consumer of meat in the ECOWAS sub-region, with Lagos as the largest livestock market. Contrastingly, the quality and quantity of milk from the livestock only amounts to about one litre a day, leaving a dire consequence for local sourcing for dairy manufacturers. Improving outputs, however depend on stakeholders’ ability to shift the production paradigm from the present nomadic grazing practice that has led to loss of lives and property to a sustainable approach. FEMI ADEKOYA writes.
Nigeria’s dairy industry holds huge growth potential considering the present local sourcing capacity and opportunities, yet undermined by crude milk sourcing by local farmers.Indeed, Nigeria’s milk production on dairy farms is largely characterised by cattle ownership belonging to mostly Fulani pastoralists who are nomadic and go for days on long distances to graze their cattle and look for pasture and water for them.

This practice however affects the quality and quantity of their milk with the output of milk per cow per day currently at about 1 litre compared to other African countries like Kenya and Uganda with between 30 to 40 litres of milk per cow per day.In order to develop production and grow in both quantity and quality there is a need to focus on management capability; disease control; cow comfort and welfare; practical capability of labour; and to align the industry’s economic incentives with the required results.

Statistics published by Dairy Chain in 2014 puts the yearly demand of milk in Nigeria at 1.1 billion litres with an estimated annual production greater than 400 million litres while annual demand/supply gap stood at 700 million litres. This leaves an opportunity for dairy investments in the country.

To improve the quality of products and raise consumer confidence in domestic processors and their products, FrieslandCampina WAMCO under its Farmer2Farmer programme attempted to champion the paradigm shift in milk sourcing by creating an interface for knowledge sharing between the nation’s pastoralists and dairy farmers from developed countries.

Knowledge-sharing as an effective tool for change
Explaining the main goal of the Farmer2Farmer programme, the Corporate Affairs Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Ore Famurewa said “It is to improve milk quality and increase milk production on dairy farms. This visit of the Dutch farmers is the first advisory mission to Nigeria of the Royal FrieslandCampina – Agriterra partnership, which was set up in 2011 and renewed in 2015.

“Our organisation wants to positively influence the development of rural areas and dairy farming communities in emerging economies. This is already contributing to higher incomes for farmers and better living standards for their families as well as safeguarding local food security in these markets.”
A dairy farmer under FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s Dairy Development Programme (DDP) initiative, Moyosola Rafiu, said dairy farming practices in Nigeria is still at its elementary stage, saying that knowledge-sharing with Dutch farmers have helped a lot to empower farmers with the technical know-how to boost their operations and productivity.He said the Dutch farmers under the DDP took farmers through different farming practices ranging from pasture management, cow signals, hygiene, compounding feeds and introduced them to their input suppliers.

“With all the trainings, we are optimistic of improved milk production by our cows. We were also taught artificial insemination, improving the genetics of our local cows to the improved breed. With these breed, we are sure of getting more milk unlike our local cows that we get maximum of 2 litres daily per cow. This for us is a significant improvement for dairy farming in Nigeria”, he added.

New efforts and collaborations to the rescue
The Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Nigeria PLC, Ben Langat, said for the dairy sector to function optimally, there is an urgent need for increased access to finance and credit facilities; access to land for grazing, pasture, feed et al; improved reviewed policies, clear regulations on land ownership in different parts of the country.

He also advocated the need for improved research in animal health and nutrition as well as technologies for enhancing dairy farming, empowering more smallholder farmers with well-established ranches; improved and availability of modern farming methods and equipment.

In his words, “Availability of variety of dairy products, improved yield of milk in litres per cow per day, 100 per cent local sourcing of milk for dairy firms, markets for the milk products from farmers organised dairy clusters and cooperatives, well established dairy communities with well developed facilities- schools, hospitals, access roads across dairy zones, potable water, regular electricity are all critical for achieving sustainable dairy production in the country.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to the DDP initiative of FrieslandCampina WAMCO.He commended the company for its laudable initiative aimed at boosting dairy production while also developing local content with the help of its DDP scheme across different parts of Oyo State.

The Minister who was represented by the Acting Director, Animal Production and Husbandry Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, John Taiwo, expressed the Ministry’s preparedness to create the enabling environment in making Nigeria self sufficient in dairy production.“We will not only be self sufficient, but also a net exporter of dairy products in the nearest future. The awareness created by this event will elicit investors both local and foreign to invest in the dairy value chain and would also create ample investment opportunities in livestock production,” he said.

The Governor, Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, said the company’s programmes aimed at improving the nutritional needs of the country is a reflection of its love and believe in the Nigerian economy.He said dairy farming can attract big investment opportunities and open up partnerships critical for the development of the sector in the country.He noted that the federal government is willing to support business models to unlock some of the potentials that are germane to economic development while also commending FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s efforts and commitments in its quest to making Nigeria self sufficient in dairy production.


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