Preparing Nigeria’s dairy industry for the future
While the global dairy industry has tremendously increased efficiency and reduced its environmental impact, Nigeria continues to lag in driving a transition from the traditional practice to sustainable practices that not only improve yield but develop the value-chain for economic growth. The success story of this industry depends largely on infrastructure, knowledge-sharing, innovation, shift in cultural practices, stakeholder engagement and commitment to backward integration agenda by players in the dairy business. FEMI ADEKOYA explores lessons from FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s Dairy Development Programme model and how it can be adopted by operators to grow the dairy industry.
Despite the possibility of ignoring value chains, virtually every food system is highly interconnected. In the dairy industry, actions taken by dairy farmers with their animals affect not only the farm itself but also have ripple effects up and downstream from the farm along the entire dairy value chain.
That is why at the sight of milk, several questions are raised. Such questions include, where did the milk come from? What happens at a Dairy Factory? What is the process for producing milk? What equipment is used to make milk? What and how much do cows eat? How much do cows weigh? What insects affect cows? How often do farmers milk cows? How is milk transported from place to place? How much milk do cows make each day? How long can milk last? What are the health benefits of drinking milk? What is the composition of milk? What is the Dairy Chain? What other products are made from milk?
Answering these questions require commitment to quality programmes that extend through every step of the supply chain, from farms to tankers, processing plants and sites, to the distribution networks and finally to the consumer.
FrieslandCampina WAMCO, in line with this commitment, unveiled a Dairy Development Program model to address the country’s challenges in milk production through a backward integration initiative that will aid local sourcing of milk rather than depending on imports.
According to operators in the dairy industry, the nation grapples with about $1.3 billion import bill for dairy products for a population of over 170 million people.
While the self-sufficiency target for milk production seems lofty, several challenges need to be addressed for sustainability in any milk project.
Among the problems identified in milk production in Nigeria are low milk output of Fulani cows, poor grass quality that leads to low milk yield, and lack of storage and processing equipment.
To address challenges within the supply chain, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, hinging its strategy on the fact that the quality of every link in the chain is a determinant for the success of the entire chain, commenced the implementation of the dairy development programme to sustainably improve local production.
Indeed, with commitment to the programme, the firm has made significant progress in the development of local milk production capacity in Nigeria with the engagement and training of over 1,600 (920 women and 726 men) Fulani milk producers and potential small holder dairy farmers in Oyo State.
While the company continues to invest in the maintenance of its facilities: the Milk bulking Centre in Iseyin and four functional Milk Collection Centres (MCCs) in Fashola, Alaga, Maya and Iseyin, it has been able to receive at least 21,000 litres of raw milk from its local supply chain.
Similarly, the firm is also exploring measures to expand its Dairy Development Programme (DDP) through knowledge-sharing between the University of Ibadan and Wageningen University, Netherlands.
According to the company, the pact between the academic institutions is expected to aid the transfer of technology know-how on milk production to Nigerian farmers to improve the local content sourcing and enhance the well-being of value-chain operators.
The Corporate Affairs Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Mrs. Ore Famurewa, while speaking during a visit to the firm’s DDP facilities in Oyo State, explained that the company, as part of its commitment to the programme, is exploring measures to make the project a nationwide agenda by ensuring that skills are transferred to assist indigenous farmers on best practices for improved yield.
According to her, the firm hopes to surpass its 10 per cent target noting that this move was necessitated by the need to explore and exploit the untapped natural endowments in the country.
In her words: “We plan to meet 10 per cent local content contribution in the next five years, but it has been very challenging. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to support us in our dairy development programme. Presently, we are at three per cent because dairy development is a gradual process, but for us, slowly and steadily, we would surely win the race.”
On how the firm’s efforts may have helped government to address grazing challenges in the country, Famurewa said smallholder farmers are beginning to explore inside grazing while cross-bred animals are being invested in for higher yields.
“A lot of people in the country have complained about Fulanis going into their farms to graze, causing mayhem, but overtime we have been able to reduce this menace in Oyo. We are working not only with the Fulani farmers, but also with the indigenes as well. We have been able to train these farmers to supply quality raw milk to us and of course, they have been able to earn a living. We have started with Oyo, but have plans to expand because we believe that dairy development will be a national programme”, she added.
On his part, the Research and Development/ Dairy Development Manager, Lawrence Ohue Inegbenoise, said the DDP is aimed at addressing the challenge of ageing farmers across the country, scarcity of natural resources and the fast growing population.
“We believe the way to address these challenges is having DDPs across all our regions. We have been working with the Fulanis and based on our experience in other countries, we have cross-breeds that would increase milk production. We have started with the Fulanis and the next step will be having a crop of young graduates that would be trained as small holders dairy farmers in clusters to get the entire infrastructure needed to boost our operations in dairy production,” he said.