By Gabriel Ewepu
THE West African Milk Company, WAMCO, at the weekend disclosed that it will invest N3 billion in its small holder dairy farmer programme in Nigeria. This was made known by the Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Raul Colaco, at their renewed signing of Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on dairy development in the country.
Colaco explained that the company has made the investment commitment as part of its effort towards the development dairy and livestock industry in Nigeria in order to make the country’s dairy industry as s leading one in Africa. He said: “We will launch the small dairy farmer holder concept starting with a cluster of 50 farmers which today is globally recognised as the most sustainable and socially inclusive way of dairy farming across countries like India Uganda Kenya and Rwanda.
“We have already started the process five years ago with the Agriculture Ministry, and today we work with over 2, 500 farmers in generating millions of litres of quality milk every year. “This is a programme we have successfully implemented in South East Asia, where we have trained over 2, 000 farmers in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Malaysia, and now we bring this very successful programme to Nigeria.
“And we will demonstrate our commitment to the local communities by supporting existing dairy farms starting with Micopal in Kaduna State by providing them with technical assistance. We will put our money where our mouth is, that is why we are investing over N3 billion in this programme.” According to him among agreement signed with milk cooperatives in the Netherlands was the farmer-to-farmer skill basic programme, which will involve Dutch farmers visiting Nigeria and showing Nigerian farmers their ground experience.
He also stated that the dairy giant, who are makers of Peak, Three Crowns and Friso brands of milk, will empower over 2, 500 dairy farmers in the country to be top producers of dairy products in the Nigeria and Africa in line with its pioneered Dairy Development Programme, DDP, since August 2010.
Also speaking on the renewal of the Diary Development Memorandum of Understanding, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, he (Colaco) said it was in line with the company’s mission in nourishing Nigerians with quality nutrition as well as help Nigeria towards achieving sufficiency in milk production.
In his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, promised commitment to the MoU and urged unemployed graduates to take advantage of the new livestock policy of the government.
“We are committed to what we say and believe that this whole business of dairy production. Every child soon will have access to three pints of milk per week or per day. If this has been done elsewhere in India, Kenya, Uganda, I see no reason why Nigeria can’t do it.
“When we unfold this programme on cattle rearing and meat production unemployed graduates will have the business and they may not need searching for a job”, Ogbeh said.
According to the Minister the cows will be new breed and well catered for, therefore described the renewed MoU as beginning of a long journey, and added that no other regime or civil servant should alter change to basic programmes such as this.