Milk Afric to Meet Milk Demands

| June 1, 2015

The startup of diary production by Milk Afric Company will ensure sufficient production to meet the high demand for milk supply in the country.

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony to kick start the massive project in Lobatse on May 29, former vice president, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe, said Milk Afric brought hope to Batswana in terms of employment creation as well as knowledge and skills development.

Milk Afric, an investor company from the United States of America (USA) in partnership with Alliance Diaries and the Lobatse Town Council, would start a P120 million project with 2 000 cows to produce 20 000 litres of milk per day.

The company led by Mr Phil Matibe, as the chief executive officer will employ 250 Batswana, with plans already afoot to take 15 of them to the University of Florida in USA to be trained on diary production.

Dr Kedikilwe said the company, therefore, brought hope to the future of agriculture and in particular on dairy development and out-grower programmes.

He commended the programme, which he said had the side benefits, as the company had already leased 2 500 hectares of land in the Barolong, Ramatlabama and Good Hope area for fodder production in collaboration with the small holder farmers.

Quoting from Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s 2014 state of the nation address, Dr Kedikilwe said, “in terms of job creation, rural income generation and food security, agriculture remains a priority and one of the economic sectors with untapped potential.

With respect to diary, he indicated that the country was still dependent on import of milk and milk products. Dr Kedikilwe condemned the hostile feeling going around that foreign investors in diary production would crowd and suffocate the already existing local diary producers.

He accentuated that the country had a glaring milk deficit as it imported 59.5million litres from South Africa per annum. He cited that local milk producers only produced three million litres, which translated to five per cent of the local demand, with 95 per cent of it being imported.

This, he said, was a clear sign that there was plenty of room and ample opportunity for those who could participate meaningfully in the agriculture sector.

He noted that the local milk production industry was constrained by many factors such as limited knowledge and poor management which have a bearing on securing credit facilities, high prices of breeds, drought, heat stress and diseases.

He however said government has developed a Dairy Development Strategy to facilitate good dairy production, with close to 3 000 hectares of land being set aside by various authorities and communities for fodder and dairy production.

Dr Kedikilwe commended the Milk Afric team and all stakeholders for their determination, that despite the five year journey that was characterised by court cases, water issues and the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment, it has finally come to pass that milk production will begin in Lobatse.

For his part, USA Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Earl Miller said the project illustrates how USA investors in partnership with Botswana leaders could help diversify the nation’s economy and address unemployment.

Mr Miller commended the pioneers of the project, both for government and individuals, for making the project start-up possible. This production, he said would offer a sustainable milk production system that would provide fresh locally produced milk to Botswana’s grocery store shelves.

He said the cattle industry is a valued part of Botswana’s heritage adding that the country is therefore positioned to excel in this sector. “The success of Milk Afric is part of a broader trend of U.S – Botswana strengthening trade ties over the last ten years,” he said.

He indicated that in 2014, the USA imported P318 billion of goods and services from Botswana while Botswana imported P53 billion in trade from USA. He expressed gratitude that Batswana utilise the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) as the exports grew by 50 per cent in the past year.

“Looking forward, I trust that this trend will continue strengthening our bilateral commercial ties for the betterment of American and Batswana lives”, he said.

For his part, Member of Parliament for the area, Mr Sadique Kebonang thanked all stakeholders in the project and appreciated the great investment. Mr Kebonang, who is also the Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, expressed gratitude that the investment would not only benefit Batswana but would rather benefit the whole country.

He said the milk production company was also coming not only to boost the milk industry but other sectors of the economy. The Town Mayor, Ms Malebogo Kruger said Lobatse had long awaited the project to start and could not contain her happiness that it was finally coming to pass.

With the journey having started in 2011, she said it was indeed a long wait that was worth it. She thanked the investor company for exercising patience in the midst of all the constraint it experienced, a sign that it was indeed determined to start milk production in Lobatse.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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