Experts have called for more milk consumption in Africa, which is still low.
They say it will be achieved by increasing milk production, sensitization and ensuring quality.
It was one of the points of discussions during the 12th International Dairy Conference and Exhibition that has just ended in Kigali.
Dr. Amit Saha, Director of Dairy Farm Analysis at International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN), said milk consumption per capita was 52.3 kilogrammes (litres) per year, which is about half of the global level.
Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) states that there are countries with high milk consumption per capita (over 150 kg), medium (30 to 150) and others have low consumption which is below 30/capita/year.
FAO adds that more than 6 billion people worldwide consume milk and milk products and that the majority live in developing countries.
“Low per capita [milk] consumption is a concern, but we can work together to address this issue. We want smart farmers, who produce safe milk from green cows,” said Tendayi Clementine Marecha, the Board member of Eastern and Southern African Dairy Association (ESADA), and Chief Dairy Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe. Dairy experts say that the rural community is the one with the least milk consumption- as they usually sell it.
“I believe that in the sense of serving the nutrition needs in communities, there is a lot of efforts needed from the government to work on the awareness of the nutritional benefits, work with partners to increase per capita consumption especially in the rural communities,” noted Dennis Karamuzi, Chief of Part for Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Programme II at Land O’Lakes International Development. He added that awareness should be created around Milk Collection Centres to be able to increase consumption.
Dr. Theogene Rutagwenda, Director General of Livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) said that the One Cup Per Child and the One Cow Per Poor Family (Girinka) programme had helped improve nutrition.
Currently One Cup Per Child is being effected in 112 schools in 15 districts of the country covering 85,000 school children from nursery to primary three and the government plans to scale it up.
“These are some of the programmes that are helping push our dairy sector,” he said.
He noted that milk production grew from about 7,000 tonnes in 1994 to over 71,000. Milk consumption per capita stood at 59 litres per year in 2015, up from 40 litres in 2012.
For a kilogramme of cheese to be produced, there is a need for 10 kilogammes (litres) of milk, which means that a person who consumes a half kilogramme cheese, indeed, consumes five litres of milk, according to experts.
The average milk yield per cow, according to IFCN, is 582 kilogrammes per year, which is still low.
Dr. Yoseph Shiferaw Mamo, Livestock Programme Coordinator at COMESA said when African farmers and processors come together, they can build synergy to produce more and quality milk and dairy products.
IFCN states that Africa self-sufficiency in milk produce is at a level of 85 –90%.
Based to IFCN assumptions, milk demand in Africa is expected to be 80 million tonnes in 2025.