At the recently concluded dairy conference in Abuja, which brought together key players in the industry, many told tales of survival of the fittest in the subsector.
While the big players shared their survival strategies, Daily Trustspoke with one of the smallholder dairy cooperatives operators to feel the pulse of how they have been surviving in the last 25 years in the face of government neglect.
Hajiya Rukaiya Lawal Gwamna, is the Acting Director of Micopal- the brand name for the product. The actual name is Kaduna State Federation of Milk Producers Cooperative Association-which is the apex body of local milk producers in the state.
They have over 40 cooperative associations in the state, where they source, collect, process and market their milk and other products.
“We collect from the cooperatives at collection centres and points where we reach out to the village level.There we make the collection and testing to certify that it is good, quality milk then we transport it to the factory where we process, package and supply to the market,” she said.
Hajiya Gwamna told Golden Harvest that they have been in the market for over 25 years and shared some of the challenges they face such as survival strategy in a fiercely competitive dairy environment like Kaduna.
“One of the challenges we have with competition is that consumers don’t know what is reconstituted and what is fresh. Basically consumer education is necessary because they cannot differentiate some of the values in yoghurt. For Micopal, we have cooperatives where we source fresh milk from cows and process it. But other products are reconstituted products which you cannot match with ours,” she emphasized.
How framers-herders crisis affects them
Kaduna State has been rocked severally by crop farmers and herders conflicts and that has taken a toll on the smallholder dairy processors,Micopaltoo
“It has affected the farmers seriously because some of them lost their herds and that has affected their productivity. The cows are no more; they are rustled, so the quantity of milk hasalso drastically dropped,” Rukaiya stated.
She, however, expressed hope for the future as the farmers are beginning to understand the need for permanent settlement in order to maintain and grow the little numbers and make them more productive.
Areas they want to see government intervention
Their activities are empowering, trying to change the narrative of the smallholder farmers-creating income, giving them value for their wealth, increasing their livelihood and reducing the conflicts.
“What I will like to see- because there are so many things attached to this… thank God attention is now been brought to livestock because over the years it has been neglected – I want government to make it easy for dairy farmers to access water, land, feeds/pastures. Also, I want to see access roads to these rural areas where movement of the milk will be facilitated and made easy. In addition, education, healthcare and skills acquisitions for the families will also help,” she stated.
The association is already making moves for expansion and has signed an MoU with Arla Food.
Arla is coming in as off-takers from the farmers and, according to her, this initiative will “add value to the milk and the family incomes. This is going to be an awakening and change from the traditional way of doing business.”
They are also looking forward to expanding to other states in the coming years.