Dairy farming under the microscope
“National demand for milk is around 65 billion litres per year and milk production per cow is about 16 litres per day!”
This was revealed at theDairy Through Leadership Forum,when dairy farmers and relevant stakeholders converged at De Rust Dairy Farm in Pitsane to discuss the industry.
The forum was organised by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) under the theme ‘Key to economic diversification and food security’.
In his opening remarks, BITC CEO,KeletsositseOlebile explained that the forum was formulated at the Agriculture Thought Leadership held in March in an attempt to address the specific constituents of Agriculture.
This came after the realisation that Agriculture is a broad sector impossible to adequately address in one general forum.
“The purpose of this forum is to assist in coming up with ways and means to boost and grow the Agriculture sector in general and meet the national objectives of employment creation and economic diversification,” he said.
Olebile further noted that Agriculture has been an important contributor to the country’s economy since Independence.
“In 1968it contributed 45 percent to the GDP of Botswana,” he revealed adding that although that number has since dwindled to around two percent, farmers should not lose heart.
Giving an overview of the diary subsector, Mariri revealed the total number of dairy cattle in Botswana currently stands at 4, 000.
“We have all kinds of challenges like shortage of dairy cattle, recurring droughts and others including outbreaks of disease especially Foot-and-Mouth. Foot-and-Mouth is a major economic disease because it can affect production when it happens. Right now we have the disease outbreak in South Africa so we cannot import raw milk but rather pasteurized milk,” he said, adding this was one of the reasons for the85 percent milk import incurred bythe Botswana market.
However, this high percentage presents an opportunity for dairy farmers in Botswana to increase production and venture into milk processing.
“Investors can go directly into milk production. We already have few investors from different countries who are doing that and we hope to have more. There could also be heifer production; veal production, this is similar to feed lotting but the animals are mainly fed milk to produce white meat, ” he noted.
The forum was also attended by delegates from Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, who shared thoughts on how Botswana could customise international experience to fit its context.
Dr. Phillip Cherono of the Kenya Dairy Board advised that the sector professionalise their service delivery in terms of Animal Health Care, lab testing, breeding as well as the reform of the Land Tenure System.
“Milk does not come from cows, it comes from milk producers,” added Tobias De Villiers of Dairy Farmers of South Africa as he advised Batswana Farmers to put in the hard work.