Current data indicates that milk consumption in Africa is the lowest in the world, around 37 litres per person annually, which is 67 litres below the world average of 104 litres per person and accounts for just six per cent of world consumption.
These are shocking statistics, though in the field of poverty one never stops being shocked by how much millions of children are mired in poverty and malnutrition.
The abysmally low level of milk consumption as a broad part of culture may also explain the laxity with which we often do things. For instance, one checks on consumption of milk in Tanzania and all that one comes across is a data update for June 2018.
It says that the country registered an increase of about 400 million litres between 2003 and 2017 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,” it was indicated. This shows that the growth in milk consumption isn’t even in tandem with population growth but is slower.
It also means that some people or sections of the population who may have been in a position to purchase milk regularly in 2003 were no longer able to do so by 2017, as the rise in population was far more rapid than the 200,000 increase in milk production across 15 years.
As food and especially nutrition is a key indicator of well being, there is no denying that broad sections of the country’s children were living in more precarious conditions than it was earlier, and adult habits of drinking milk as an auxiliary to routine food needs had also diminished.
Purchasing of fortified baby milk imports or routine milk must have climbed down significantly owing to rising price disparity with stable exchange rates with the dollar.
It is around these themes that local activists marking World Milk Day rather silently owing to continuing precautions tied to the Covid-19 pandemic must have been focusing upon, as the world marked this auspicious day especially for nutrition of children.
For adults, the use of milk is often pushed aside by cultural habits where meat, fish or beans are the standard accessories when one takes a stiff porridge lunch or supper, for instance.
For most local families the idea of having a buffet dinner or table with all sorts of foods to pick from is unheard of, not affordable.
In that case, milk comes up rarely if tastes are different, and it is unlikely that one comes across a restaurant which offers milk as accessory to rice or stiff porridge, so one has to make a point of actually purchasing milk to drink it.
Here other impediments crop up, as purchasing a drink is not the same as purchasing food, so milk is either part of food or done for, and that is basically what one gets culturally speaking.
When it comes to taking tea or coffee with fresh milk, the price from simple green tea jumps up surprisingly, and the likely reason is that there are too few consumers and thus the restaurateur must cap the price for the users, as milk is bought in units.