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Sahel Consulting Celebrates the 2020 World Milk Day

Two decades ago, on the 1st of June 2000, World Milk Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector. Each year since, the benefits of milk and dairy products have been actively promoted around the world, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people. On June 1, 2020, as part of its commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of World Milk Day, Sahel Consulting organized a virtual conference themed “The Critical Role of the Nigerian Dairy Sector in Improving Livelihoods”. The conference highlighted the benefits of dairy with regards to nutrition, affordability and accessibility, and the sector’s passion and commitment to improving the livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers and feeding our communities.

Ndidi Nwuneli MFR, Cofounder and Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting gave the welcome address and set the agenda for the conference. She highlighted how pivotal a developed dairy industry is to the livelihoods of dairy households, growth of indigenous dairy companies, and diversification of the Nigerian economy. She restated Sahel’s commitment to collaborating with stakeholders to transform the dairy sector through the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) program. ALDDN is a five-year program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) that is catalyzing the emergence of a vibrant local dairy sector in an inclusive way that improves the livelihoods, productivity, nutrition, and empowerment of smallholder women dairy farmers and the communities in which they live. ALDDN is being implemented in partnership with dairy processors in Adamawa, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Plateau, reaching a total of 15,000 dairy households and 210,000 beneficiaries.

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The conference’s Keynote Address was delivered by the Governor of Kaduna State, His Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. He restated his commitment to developing the livestock and dairy industry, acknowledging its importance to improving the livelihoods of rural households. Highlighted were the ongoing dairy development projects promoted by the Kaduna State Investment Agency in partnership with the private sector. These projects aim to impact at least 10,000 dairy households.

The Governor’s address was followed by a panel discussion on the role of policy in catalyzing the growth of the Nigeria dairy industry. The discussion was moderated by Audu Grema (Ph.D.), Senior Program Officer, BMGF. The panelists were Andrew Kwasari (Ph.D.), Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture and the Coordinator of Project for Agriculture Coordination and Execution; Mairo Ahmad Amshi (Ph.D) MFR, Yobe State Commissioner for Agriculture; Hajiya Halima Lawal, Kaduna State Commissioner for Agriculture; Dipo Adegoke, Assistant Director, Commodities, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment; and Alhaji M. D. Abubakar, Managing Director, L&Z Integrated Farms Nig. Ltd. The panelists emphasized the need for the establishment of a policy that creates an enabling environment for the local dairy sector to develop and compete favorably with foreign dairy products. This should be supported by government-backed initiatives that provide better infrastructure such as rural roads, water and electricity, and public campaigns that encourage the consumption of milk and other dairy products, especially those produced from locally sourced milk.

Additionally, Dr. Kwasari emphasized the need for an organized framework that coordinates capital, transformative knowledge, and physical assets to improve the dairy industry. It was agreed that there is a need for better coordination and collaboration among industry stakeholders.

The second panel discussion provided insights on how a developed dairy industry contributes to increased productivity, women empowerment, and improved nutrition outcomes. Olumide Oyebamiji, ALDDN’s Policy Advocacy and Partnerships Coordinator, moderated the discussion. The panelists were Alhaji Sanusi Abdullahi, CEO Saj Foods Limited; Aminu Nyako, Director, Sebore Farms; Babajide Adebisi, Public Health Nutritionist and Project Team Lead, TechnoServe/ALDDN; Jummai Bappah, Gender Advisor, ALDDN; and Fisayo Kayode, Livestock Associate, ALDDN. The panelists highlighted the positive impact ALDDN is having on the lives of smallholder women dairy farmers, their households, and the milk supply chain of partner dairy processors who are committed to their backward integration initiatives. Additionally, panelists drew attention to the link between increased sustainable income arising from the sale of milk to dairy processors and improved nutrition in dairy households.

In her closing remarks, Ndidi Nwuneli summarized the key takeaways from the conference in four main points. First, dairy industry stakeholders need to work together, collaborate, and share information, to co-design the landscape and ensure that a world class dairy sector in Nigeria is achieved.  Second, there is a dire need for a streamlined, cohesive, and consistent policy framework to regulate the dairy sector. This policy must be derived from an inclusive process, with input from the private sector and relevant government actors such as the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Industry, Trade and Investment; the Central Bank of Nigeria; and the National Livestock Transformation Plan. Third, it is imperative that both the multinational and indigenous dairy companies collaborate to have strong unified platform and voice to engage with the government and promote the growth of local dairy industry to ensure dairy is accessible and affordable for Nigerians. Fourth, productivity at all levels must be improved. Taking a cue from international best practices, research institutes must step up to help build the capacity of all actors, upgrading their skills and promoting excellence. The conference recorded over 110 participants from within and outside Nigeria.

Sahel Consulting is committed to transforming Africa’s agriculture and nutrition landscape. The ALDDN program is transforming the Nigerian dairy landscape by building sustainable supply chains and promoting sourcing of fresh milk from smallholder dairy household by dairy processors. Visit www.sahelconsult.com/ALDDN or email ooyebamiji@sahelcp.com to find out more about the ALDDN program.

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