“More and more African consumers demand types of dairy products that cannot always be produced locally in adequate volumes. We offer good nutrition through our powdered milk products, and simultaneously we want to ensure that our business does not have any negative effects on local farmers,” says executive vice president Finn Hansen, head of Arla’s international business group.
The Nigerian dairy market is expected to reach 450m consumers by 2050, which Arla Foods says presents a huge market opportunity.
Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the MoU was a sign of Nigeria’s critical need to develop the dairy industry, not just as a business but as a development program.
Feeding a growing population
One of the areas Ogbeh hopes the MoU will address is the issue of malnourishment, especially among children.
“We have a school feeding program and dream of a day when every child should have sufficient meals per day,” Ogbeh said.
“From the cattle breeding improvement program, we are looking at a near future when a family in the city outskirts can keep poverty away with three or four cows.”
Arla Foods is currently in talks with local farmer groups and universities, including the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and the University of Ilorin, for partnerships that will see it invest and provide the know-how and insights to help improve local dairy production in Nigeria.
The international diary giant will also be extending support through promotional activities geared toward dairy development in Nigeria, such as forums for dairy businesses.
Under the agreement, the Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria pledged to provide infrastructure, including rural roads, earth-filled embankment dams, and boreholes in grazing reserves - plots of land specifically set aside by the government of Nigeria for use by farmers to raise and allow their cattle to graze.
The Ministry of Agriculture is also expected to support breed and pasture improvement activities in grazing reserves within areas of operations.