Tanzania adopts high yield dairy cows, , improved feed

19Nov 2022
The Guardian
Tanzania adopts high yield dairy cows, , improved feed

THE government has adopted high yield dairy cattle breeds and improved feed to increase milk production while at the same time reducing planet warming greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and alleviating poverty, according to a new study.

A study released recently by Lancaster University scientists in the United Kingdom (UK) showed that the dairy sector is poorly developed with mainly small-scale farms stocked with low-yielding breeds, using poor quality feeds.

Tanzania has the second-largest dairy herd in the East African region with 28 million cows.

Along with other supply chain problems around handling and refrigeration, this results in poor productivity and the need to import processed dairy products leading to a $23 million trade deficit.

The research paper is the first to find evidence that breeding higher-yielding dairy cattle offers significant potential to help Tanzania reduce its dependency on foreign food imports and at the same time help meet its climate commitments.

The findings show that two key targets of Tanzanian government policy – becoming self-sufficient in milk and cutting GHG emissions by a third – can be achieved simultaneously while increasing income in farming communities.

The researchers carried out a household survey of 1 200 dairy farmers in the country, which was used as a baseline for sectoral modeling analysis.

The survey was done in four districts and two agroecological zones and it was used to estimate milk production, yields from different cattle breeds and how the cattle are managed.

It was noted that Tanzania’s local cattle cope well with high temperatures, but produce little milk. New breeds, which cross local cattle with high-yielding European cows, produce three times as much milk, while still coping well with heat.

It was noted that Tanzania’s low cost-competitiveness with trading partners results in the import of roughly US$23 million per year in dairy, and aims to replace these imports with domestic production.

“The idea was to model the Tanzanian Government’s planned interventions to increase milk production and also their targets for improved dairy breeds and feeding practices,” said Dr James Hawkins, an environmental economist from the Lancaster Environment Centre, and lead author of the study.

“What is important is to understand the interactions between cattle management and productivity because the carbon footprint is strongly related to the productivity of dairy cows,” he said.

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