Milk Day should encourage establishment of industries for value

01Jun 2021
The Guardian
Milk Day should encourage establishment of industries for value
  • addition of products 

​​​​​​​World Milk Day is an international day established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to recognise the importance of milk as a global food.  It has been observed on June 1 each year since 2001.

The day is intended to provide an opportunity to bring attention to activities that are connected with the dairy sector.  

World Milk Day was first designated by the FAO in 2001. June 1 was chosen as the date because many countries were already celebrating a milk day during that time of year.  

The Day provides an opportunity to focus attention on milk and raise awareness of dairy’s part in healthy diets, responsible food production, and supporting livelihoods and communities. This is supported by FAO data showing that more than one billion people's livelihoods are supported by the dairy sector and that dairy is consumed by more than six billion people globally.  The fact that many countries choose to do this on the same day lends additional importance to individual national celebrations and shows that milk is a global food.

In spite of a rapid increase in the number of small scale milk producers and expanding demand for milk in Tanzania, marketing functions of the dairy industry seems to be lagging behind. Unlike the beef marketing system where cattle markets, holding grounds, slaughtering houses/slabs and butcheries are found in most urban and rural areas, marketing system for milk is less organised.

Tanzania needs to  examine  marketing functions of milk by small scale producers with the ultimate objective of identifying priority areas of improving the efficiency of the marketing systems.  Also it is important to evaluate  the performance of dairy industry in country and the impact of changing socio-economic environment in milk demand. The socio-economic changes considered are liberalisation of markets, rapid urbanisation, urban agriculture including livestock keeping and changes in demographics such as human population age distribution. We should as well  review  milk marketing systems in Tanzania with special attention to milk marketing channels (agencies), inter-regional comparison of milk price   and seasonality and trends of milk price.  

Milk production in Tanzania registered an increase of about 400 million litres between 2003 and 2018 but consumption remains low at only 47 litres per capita per year. Production of the highly nutritious liquid food is currently estimated at 2.4 billion litres a year from about 2 billion litres in 2003. That is in sharp contrast with the 30.5 million heads of cattle the country has, among other milk producing domestic animals. Dairy experts maintain the yield is not enough to enable the country achieve a 200 litre per capita consumption of the dairy product a year as recommended by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (Fao).

 Our average consumption rate of 47 litres is even below our neighbours (Kenya) where statistics show each person drinks about 100 litres a year.     The large herds of livestock Tanzania has been endowed has not helped matters either, due to the poor quality of animals, among others.  The 2.4 billion litres are largely sourced from the 1.5 million dairy cattle with 27 million cows production just a fraction of that. The Milk Week, which had been organised each year since the 1990s. 

The annual event is intended to improve animal husbandary and subsequently increase milk production and consumption of dairy products among the populace. Although milk production has significantly increased consumption has generally remained static.Indeed low milk production has impacted negatively on investment in the dairy sector. Processing plants need large quantities, a critical mass of milk to enable them operate profitably. The same also applies to poultry and meat sub-sectors.  Objectives of the annual  Expo and Milk Week  should  encourage investments in the livestock sector and, in particular, encourage establishment of industries for value addition of livestock products.