Arla Foods, one of the world’s leading dairy firms and makers of Dano Milk, has expressed confidence in the potentials of the Nigerian dairy sector following its first round of field visits organised to meet with local dairy farmers in Nigeria.
Director, Trade Policy for Arla Foods, Kasper Thormod Nielson, disclosed this in his speech at a two-day National Retreat on Live Stock and Dairy Development, organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture from June 7 to 8, in Abuja.
Kasper, who revealed that he was in Nigeria with other senior specialists from Arla Foods Denmark on field visits, commended Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for the commitment to developing the Nigerian diary sector.
His words: “We are seeing true potential. We believe in cooperative growth. Our best results have always been achieved together with others. Therefore, we are committing to work with the Minister, his strong team as well as the local partners to secure the development of a sustainable Nigerian dairy sector”.
On the purpose of the field visits embarked upon by his team in Nigeria, Kasper said it was with a view to addressing some specific challenges in the Nigeria dairy sector, and assured of the company’s commitment to partnering with Nigeria on developing the sector.
“There are many challenges from what we have seen ranging from access to water, access to land, access to feeds, health status, hygiene and breeds amongst others. But what we are primarily looking for is the right mindset. The mindset to cooperate; the mindset to create a business, the mindset to create common and sustainable growth, the mindset for discovering real potentials, the mindset for partnerships and we are truly seeing the potentials and looking forward to following up on our findings in the nearest future”, he said.
Kasper however disclosed that based on the activities so far embarked upon by Arla Foods and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as the identification of suitable Nigerian partners, the company will present its firm commitments to the Honorable Minister in a due course. He assured that a progress report will be presented to the Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh at a meeting this week and hinted that another updated progress report will again be shared with the Minister when the company’s CEO visits Nigeria later in the year.
He further explained that the scaled timing is to allow some time to qualify the company’s intention as presented to the Honorable Minister in February, but more importantly in order to ensure that the company’s commitments are relevant and realistic. “Our ambition is to make a real difference in the development of a sustainable Nigerian dairy sector considering the economic, social and environmental aspects of the sector,” he added.
It would be recalled that in February Arla made an expression of interest to partner with the Federal Government to develop a sustainable dairy sector. This was followed with a bilateral visit of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to Denmark in May. Arla Foods is expected to present a progress report on its activities including the farm-focused field visit. This is to be followed with a second scheduled field visit and roundtable between September and October.
In his speech, Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, commended Arla Foods for its commitment to helping Nigeria develop its local dairy sector, just as he expressed confidence in the potentials of the sector to serve the dairy needs of the country despite the current challenges it faces if Nigeria gets the required support from experienced dairy partners. The Minister who lamented that Nigeria’s current milk production is extremely poor with about 1 litre milk per cow per day compared with Brazil and Saudi Arabia with about 30-40 litre milk per cow per day while Nigeria imports about $1.3 billion dollars worth of milk annually to make up the deficit. He therefore explained that, this is one of the reasons Nigeria is looking in the direction of experienced partners, saying, “your country is not only self-sufficient in milk production but you have excess that is exported to other nations. This is a demonstration of the success you have recorded in dairy industry, and the success story is really worth sharing.”
According to him, “We have to be self sufficient in milk production because 27% of our children have nutrient deficiencies. Milk is good. It is probably the richest concentration of nutrients you can find. Imagine if every child gets a pint of milk daily under our school feeding programme.”
Ogbeh explained that the Nigerian government is determined to walk the path of developing local production capacity saying, “the only alternative left for us is to intensify our efforts on production of what can be produced locally and seek partnership and collaboration with private investors, researchers, financial institutions, development partners and friendly nations to develop our local capacity. It is my pleasure to inform you that development of livestock and dairy industry occupies a prime position in the agricultural road map of the current administration. The intention is to develop a sustainable livestock and dairy industry.”
Arla Foods was founded about 130 years through a cooperative ownership structure with a vision to create the future of dairy bringing health and inspiration to the world as well as a mission to secure the highest possible value for farmers’ milk, while creating opportunity for their growth. It ranks among the world’s five largest dairy firms. Under its Nigeria operation, the firm has around 200 employees, most of them working at its packaging facility in Lagos.