Danish dairy giant, Arla Foods has expressed confidence in the potentials of Nigerian diary sector after completing a first round of field visits organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to meet with local dairy farmers in Nigeria.
The Director of Trade Policy for Arla Foods, Kasper Thormod Nielson, disclosed this in his speech at a two-day National Retreat on Livestock and Dairy Development, put together by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture from June 7 to 8, in Abuja.
Mr. Nielson, said that he was in Nigeria with a team of senior specialists from Arla in Denmark. He used the occasion to commend the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for his commitment to developing the Nigerian dairy sector.
“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.
Nielson noted that the purpose of the field visit was to address some specific challenges in the Nigerian dairy sector. He assured of Arla’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.
L-R: Ivana Tsvetkova, CSR Project Manager Arla Foods; Irene Quist Mortensen, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Arla Foods International; Chief Audu Ogbeh, (OFR), Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development; Kasper Thormod Nielsen, Director, Trade Policy and Flemming Larsen, Senior Agricultural Specialist, Arla International during a visit to the Minister
The Director said that based on the activities so far embarked by Arla and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the selection of suitable Nigerian partners, the company will present its firm commitment to the minister in due course. He said that a progress report will be presented to the Minister, Chief Ogbeh this week and a follow-up report will again be shared with the ministry later in the year when the company’s CEO visits Nigeria.
Mr. Nielson further said that measured timing was 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.
Earlier in February, the maker of Dano Milk made an expression of interest to partner with the Federal government in the development of the dairy sector. It would be followed with a bilateral visit of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to Denmark in May.
For his part, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, used the opportunity to commend Arla Foods for its commitment to helping Nigeria develop its dairy sector. The minister lamented that the current milk production was poor, with about 1-litre milk per cow per day, compared with nations like Brazil and Saudi Arabia where milk production per cow was in the neighborhood of 30-40 litres per day. He noted that Nigeria imports about $1.3bn worth of milk annually to make up for what is not produced locally. Mr. Ogbeh added that this was one of the reasons the government was looking at partnering with experienced producers of milk.
“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.
“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,” the minister said.
Ogbeh further said that the Federal government was determined to develop a sustainable livestock and dairy industry by partnering and collaborating with private investors, researchers, financial institutions, development partners and friendly nations in order to develop our local capacity.
Arla Foods is a Danish farmer owned dairy cooperative established 130 years ago. They are ranked among the world’s five largest dairy firms. The company employs about 200 people in a packaging facility it co-owns with Tolaram Group in Lekki, Lagos.