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Growing Ecosystem with Local Milk Sourcing in Nigeria
With a milestone of 2,500 litres of fresh milk recorded per day through its Nigeria Livestock Development Project, NLDP, in Abuja, Rebecca Ejifoma underscores the drive of Nestlé Nigeria and its partners — CBIL and 2SCALE — to help grow the ecosystem, produce more milk locally, engender hygienic collection and handling practices through empowering over 625 milk farmers in Abuja
Recognising the value of milk globally cannot be overemphasised. Many households arguably depend on it for their staple diets like cheese, beverages, baking foods of all kinds and more with delight. Hence, the need to meet the nation’s milk production and uptake both for industries and local consumption.
And because Nestlé Nigeria, Africa’s largest food and beverage company, understands this assignment, it is forging ahead with its mandate to create shared value, enhance the quality of life, and contribute to a healthier future. While this is driven by its purpose to help shape a better world and inspire people to live healthier lives as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it aims to grow the ecosystem rapidly.
Therefore, in line with the theme of World Milk Day 2022, “Dairy Net Zero”, on June 1 this year, Nestlé’s Nigeria Livestock Development Project (NLDP) recorded a milestone of 2,500 litres of fresh milk per day from only 200 litres collected on the first day of milk collection on 1st of June last year.
This is courtesy of Nestlé Nigeria and its partners, Convention for Business Integrity Ltd (CBIL) and 2SCALE. While the NLDP delivers 1,500 litres per day at Paikon Kore Grazing Reserve, it achieves 1,000 litres per day at Kachia Grazing Reserve.
This was possible after Nestlé Nigeria empowered more than 625 local farmers. “The collection of 2,500 litres of milk per day was made possible by the 25 cooperatives, which comprise over 625 households. They milk between 4,000 and 6,000 cows every day.”
According to the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager for Nestlé Nigeria, says Victoria Uwadoka, these cooperatives were trained and nurtured for over 18 months to achieve the good quality fresh milk now produced through the project.
On what propelled local milk production, Uwadoka conceded that there is a huge gap between the nation’s milk needs and the milk produced locally. Uwadoka admitted, “Yes, we have cattle, but because of the way we rear (nomadic) them, they don’t produce enough milk that we need.”
Citing data, she divulged that “the demand for fresh milk production in Nigeria – for industry and local consumption – is about 1.7m tonnes a year. We are only producing between 560,000 and 570,000 tonnes of milk. That gives us a gap of 1 million tonnes. So we want to grow the ecosystem. If it grows, then we can integrate fresh milk into our production.”
“If you look at the food and beverages industry”, she chipped in, “milk is one of the ingredients. Even though we aren’t selling milk anymore – we don’t sell Nido in the market anymore – we do MSK, which is a by-product of milk we use in our MSK. We need to help grow the ecosystem. We have done it in the grain value chain. We have also done it in the cassava value chain. We want to do it in the dairy value chain. But it is a long journey because dairy is cost-intensive and very perishable”.
However, Uwadoka told THISDAY that the volume of milk production has to be much higher than what they have today to justify an investment in a milk processing plant. While expressing that some milk manufacturers get milk supply now and turn it into yoghurts, Nestlé Nigeria doesn’t just do Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), rather it likes to create shared value. “There has to be something in it for those who are producing, the community, the environment, and for us at Nestlé,” she highlighted.
Currently, “We are already producing milk from the project,” says the communications manager. “The pastoralists who are within our programme – about 50,000 farmers who are supplying milk – have uptakers who have processing plants where they turn the milk into yoghurt. So we are working with them for now while we grow the volume and ensure consistency in the quality of the milk”.
Thanks to the NLDP, milk production in Nigeria is gradually having a facelift. The 25 cooperatives were trained and nurtured for over 18 months to achieve the good quality fresh milk now produced through the project.”
According to Uwadoka, Nestlé continues to leverage its expertise in dairy to help build a sustainable dairy ecosystem through the NLDP to achieve its objective of Creating Shared Value with Nigerian dairy value chain stakeholders. The programme contributes to the local economy by providing the training and empowerment of the locals and then purchasing services from them.”
Today, the NLDP has proudly trained over 1,400 producers in modern milk handling and milking hygiene techniques to help them produce to industry standards, thereby opening more routes to market. According to Uwadoka, Nestlé pays a premium above the market rates in addition to helping families increase production and improve the quality of their products.
Deworming, Vaccinating over 6,000 Cattle
With the knowledge that Nigeria practises an omadic rearing of cows, a practice that stunts the health of the cows, Nestlé Nigeria saw the need to improve cattle health within the NLDP for more milk production.
First, it dewormed and vaccinated over 6,000 cattle against Foot and Mouth Disease. Then it went further to treat the cattle against Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in collaboration with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS). The 6,000 cattle also received vitamin and mineral blocks (salt licks).
While the NLDP is built on three pillars – Better Fodder, Better Quality, and Better Products – Nestlé believes this will be achieved by improving cooperative dynamics, promoting better herd health, and engendering hygienic milk collection and handling practices.
To maintain milk quality from milking to the processing centre, “Milk must be handled carefully and kept at a temperature of about two degrees Celsius”, Uwadoka cautioned.
“Each of the 23 aggregators employed under the NLDP project is trained to maintain these quality standards. They test for spoilage and adulteration at the collection point. A motorbike, milk churns, and lactometers are also provided to facilitate their work.”
Training Milk Handlers, Logistics for Better Quality
“We are training them on milk handling hygiene, setting up infrastructure like milk collection centres, and milk aggregation centres and training the aggregators. We are training those who manage the logistics – those who go and pick up the milk and deliver it.
“We need to build the ecosystem; that’s very important. And we are working with CBIL and 2SCALE. Those are the partners we are working with to build the ecosystem.”
Accordingly, Nestlé is proud that the aggregators get the milk to the Milk Collection and Cooling Centres (MCCC) in the shortest possible time for cooling and bulking at the requisite temperature after a four-step quality check. This comes as Nestlé equipped the centres with modern laboratory equipment to ensure food safety is maintained at industry standards while the staff are trained and issued the right gear to conform to the set safety standards.
Following swiftly on the heels of its track record of 2,500 litres per day, the Permanent Secretary, FCT, Mr Olusade Adesola, expressed, “It is glad to note that milk production has steadily increased from 150 to 1,500 litres daily within the past two years of this partnership. I have been made to understand the products from this centre are being sold in markets within and outside the Federal Capital Territory.”
Chorusing the words of Adesola, the Mandate Secretary, ARDS, Mallam Abubakar Ibrahim, admitted that since the reactivation of the MCCCs in 2021 in partnership with Nestlé Nigeria PLC, daily milk production has remarkably risen from about 300 to 1,500 litres.
“This is a result of continuous training and improvement initiatives by both partners and support from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,” says Ibrahim. “If plans by the NLDP partnership to introduce new cattle breeds and a demonstration farm are anything to go by, milk production in the FCT will receive a boost.”
Statistics of Milk Production in Abuja
Abuja has never had it so good in the last couple of years. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), domestic milk production increased by 6 per cent between 2014 and 2018, to reach a total output of 641,000 tonnes in 2018.
However, it says this rise is not enough to keep pace with consumption, which grew by approximately 8 per cent from 943,000 tonnes in 2014 to about 1 million tonnes in 2018.
The CBN also noted that the country spends between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion annually on milk and dairy imports to make up for the shortfall in local output. Today, milk production in Abuja is significantly increasing from 150 to 1,500 litres daily, according to the Permanent Secretary of the FCT.
Undoubtedly, another significant investment by the NLDP is the provision of Better Fodder which includes sufficient clean water, balanced pasture, silage and hay. Uwadoka also listed that over 250 hectares of Napier Grass and Bracheria have been cultivated and five industrial boreholes built and commissioned. To augment milk production, Nestlé is providing cotton seed cakes which have the potential to intensify milk productivity by up to two litres per cow.
Interestingly, as part of Nestlé’s unflinching commitment to protect the planet for future generations, the NLDP has adopted climate-friendly practices. First, it installed a 30KVA solar power system to shrink the fossil fuels used at the MCCC in Paikon Kore. Then it ensured that the industrial boreholes are also solar-powered.
Ultimately, Nestlé Nigeria is on the course to help grow the nation’s ecosystem for a better and healthier nation and the future generation.
The demand for fresh milk production in Nigeria – for industry and local consumption – is about 1.7m tonnes a year. We are only producing between 560,000 and 570,000 tonnes of milk. That gives us a gap of 1 million tonnes. So we want to grow the ecosystem. If it grows, then we can integrate fresh milk into our production