In a bid to offer solutions to the problems facing the dairy sector in West Africa and to develop a sustainable business model for the dairy industry in the sub-region, European and West African dairy farmers had a two-day multi-stakeholder roundtable conference to discuss new business models with the aim of creating employment and profit for the local dairy farmers in West Africa.
The conference which had the theme ‘Milky Way to Development’ was hosted by Arla Foods (producers of Dano milk powder), CARE Denmark, Billital Maroobe (RBM), Danish Agriculture & Food Council (DAFC) and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture (FMARD).
Speaking at the conference, which held last Wednesday in Abuja, the Vice Chairman, Arla Foods, Jan Toft Noergaard, said Arla is proud to host farmers and other stakeholders in both European and West African dairy sector. “We believe there are more feats to be achieved, with an alliance like this, I am sure things will happen faster. This conference is set to discuss and offer solution to challenges facing the dairy sector in West Africa and development of the dairy sector to improve the livelihood of farmers” he said.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, represented by, Director, Animal Production and Husbandry Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Egejuru Eze noted that the roundtable was happening at a time the vision of the government of Nigeria is taking a holistic approach to develop the livestock industry especially the dairy sector.
Appreciating the developmental efforts of stakeholders at the roundtable, the Minister said “it is heartwarming to note the increased interest and flow of foreign direct investment into the livestock industry from different parts of the world, particularly in dairy productions. Efforts of this nature will increase capacity to meet local dairy demand. Presently the annual national dairy output and demand are estimated at 700,000mt and 1,300,000mt respectively, giving a supply gap of about 600,000mt”, he added.
Speaking at the roundtable, the Programme Coordinator, Care Denmark, Rolf Hernoe explained that the ‘Milky Way to Development’ is an alliance of stakeholders in the dairy industry, including dairy farmers and companies in the West African region, “so far we have one European industrial producer and we are hoping to expand. We see this as the beginning of something bigger, we are currently discussing with ECOWAS to take a more active role in the alliance” he said.
Speaking on the benefits of the alliance to local dairy farmers, Rolf Hernoe said the alliance focuses on avoiding the negative impact of imports of powdered milk into the region and greater focus on involving local farmers in the value chain so that milk will be more available and safer and be processed into higher value products so that everyone will benefit. The alliance will facilitate technology transfer and investment which will definitely be of benefit to local farmers.”
Expressing his joy on the collaboration between governments, international and indigenous businesses, the Danish Ambassador to Nigeria, Torben Getterman who is representing the Development Agency of the Danish Government, said “the Danish Government is supporting the idea of the ‘Milky Way’ alliance because of it firm believe in the principle and overarching idea of the alliance. The ‘Milky Way’ alliance is a good example of how cooperation between governments, sectorial organisations, private companies, research institutes and NGOs can result in projects that carry with them benefits on so many levels” he said.
The Commissioner, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Economic Community of West African States, Tchambokou Ayassor during his speech said the need for partnership of this nature in West Africa sub-region cannot be overemphasized “a gathering like this is very important for the economic development of agriculture in the sub-region as it will give opportunities for technology transfer, development of cross boarder professional association and formulation of policy framework that will foster a faster development of the dairy sector and agriculture business in West Africa”.
The ‘Milky Way to Development roundtable’ is a high priority event for Arla Foods and is being attended by Vice Chairman of Arla Foods, Jan Toft Noergaard, General Manager of Arla Nigeria, Mr Mads Burmester, Global Trade Director, Kasper Thormod Nielsen, and Head of CSR International, Mrs. Irene Quist Mortensen.
The Danish Agriculture and Food Council was represented by Senior Advisor, Ms Anne Sofie Munk Kruse. Also Present at the roundtable are West African milk companies, multinational companies, scientists, dairy farmers and NGOs.