a glass of milk
1 June 2020

The promise of Africa’s burgeoning dairy industry

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Posted by Comfort Phiri | 01/06/2020

On World Milk Day, it’s sobering to reflect on the transformative power this humble foodstuff can have on food security. Comfort Phiri, veterinarian, Elanco Business Unit Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa writes about the impact of milk in the region.

Malnourishment in Africa affects one in three children under five, causing stunted growth.1 And with a population predicted to reach 2.2 billion by 20502, producing enough nutrient-rich food is an urgent problem.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of the population in this vast continent is under 25 and unemployment figures are high. Agriculture plays a significant role in creating jobs, providing between 30 to 70 per cent of employment.3 Yet in East Africa, women and young people are least likely to benefit economically from farming and the wider dairy supply-chain.4

What do these seemingly disparate issues have in common? That milk could hold the answer to all of them.

With investment, the dairy industry can provide nutrition and food security via affordable, safe dairy products, and more resilient food systems.

Research shows that dairy could also aid economic growth by industrialising enterprises and creating jobs. This could boost farmers’ incomes, while enhancing the role of women and addressing youth unemployment.

And animal health is an essential component in developing this industry, not least because 25 per cent of the milk produced in East Africa is lost due to animal illness5.

Elanco’s East Africa Growth Accelerator initiative (EAGA), has been helping tackle this issue. Launched in 2017, this ground-breaking initiative provides farming families with affordable, high-quality and reliable veterinary products. Crucially, it also gives people the knowledge to raise healthier dairy cattle.

By the end of this year, we’re aiming to impact the health of 1.1M cows to help farmers get a safe and sustainable milk production.

So next time you pour yourself some of the white stuff, give a thought to the true power of what’s in that glass.

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