Looking at the future
A herd of Zebu cattle grazing in Old Oyo National Park , Nigeria
The news that Danish dairy co-operative Arla is building a commercial dairy farm in Nigeria, where it will also train 1,000 farmers to help supply the giant nation with dairy products, is a good one. Located in Kaduna State, the 200-hectare farm, scheduled to open in 2022, will have housing for 400 dairy cows, modern milking parlours and technology, grass lands and living facilities for 25 employees. Over time, it should produce 10 tons of milk per day, and with a population set to reach 400 million by 2050, every drop will be required. Currently, Nigeria can supply only 10 per cent of its dairy needs.
It is the first of its size and offers 1,000 nomadic dairy farmers permanent farmlands. Arla is the commercial partner that will purchase, collect, process and bring the local milk to market. The company is also working with the Gates Foundation in West Africa on helping more farmers obtain livelihoods and improve food production in the region. Since 2017, the Danish Agricultural and Food Council, Danish Agricultural Knowledge Center Seges, Care Denmark, the Nigerian pastoralist organisation CORET, and the dairy farm co-operative Molcopal have been working together to help Nigeria gain more dairy supply domestically. The Milky Way Partnership programme is supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a way, this is always what dairy is about. Feeding people nutritiously, at low cost, and giving them a livelihood. Turning what is perhaps not the best food product (grass and silage) into a very good, quality source of protein and nutrients. It is indeed something to see, and as global warming makes things such as arable crops in Africa more difficult to produce, the need for livestock farming will be shown as a greater requirement, I suspect.
- Suzanne Christiansen, editor, Dairy Industries International.
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