The Managing Director, Genius Dairy Farms in Oyo state, Rafiu Olatunde Moyosore, has praised FrieslandCampina WAMCO for creating jobs and steady incomes for indigenous farmers through its Dairy Development Initiative, in commemoration of the World Milk Day, June 1.
Speaking with news writers at his sprawling smallholder farm in Oyo state, Moyosore, who is a FrieslandCampina WAMCO beneficiary, described how he scaled up from cattle rearing for meat to dairy farming for milk.
He said that majority of the cows in Nigeria are raised for meat, not milk. However, FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s heavy and committed investment in the dairy sector has supported farmers to produce more milk for domestic consumption, facilitated knowledge exchange, and provided employment for tens of thousands plus steady and increased incomes for over 12,000 farmers.
“We started Genius Farms about 13 years ago from our humble five acres and five cows. Then we came across FrieslandCampina WAMCO who told us about the opportunities in dairy farming. Before now, what we used to do was fatten our cows and sell them for meat. Our cows were giving us very few litres of milk, about 1 or 1.5 litres per day but they said I shouldn’t worry about it.
“Presently, we produce an average of 10 to 15 litres per cow per day. They introduced us to artificial insemination and crossbreeding with our local cows, thus improving their genetics so they can produce more milk. In 2013, we inseminated 10 cows out of which three successfully gave birth to crossbreed calves. Their mothers are here; the calves are also here. From there, they continued reproducing and now we have about 110 cows.
“Presently, we are running on 30 acres of land which we keep acquiring from different places. We are still expanding. As you can see over there, we just got four more acres of land so that we can expand. Our target is to build a kind of cluster around here whereby farmers that have about 10 acres of land with few cows can join us to do business together.”
During the field trip to FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s dairy sites in Iseyin, Oyo State, journalists visited Moyosore’s farms and he said FrieslandCampina WAMCO has influenced his business, his life and that of his family tremendously in so many ways [Gatmash News reports].
Said Moyosore, “When you have a product and you have who or where to sell it to constantly, definitely your livelihood will improve. We got enough knowledge about cows through FrieslandCampina WAMCO. I told you earlier what we were doing before, a maximum of 1.5 litres per cow per day. But at the moment, we are getting an average of 10 litres per cow per day, which is true knowledge. That’s one of the benefits we have enjoyed.
“FrieslandCampina WAMCO trains us within and outside the country. We’ve been able to learn a lot about how to manage and improve the genetics of our cows. Presently, we produce about 170 litres from 13 cows per day.”
On the challenges facing the business, the dairy farmer called on the government to put policies and infrastructure in place to improve the dairy sector, saying: “There are lots of challenges. First are the feeds. Cows eat a lot of feeds to be able to produce good quality and quantity of milk especially when it comes to the dry season.
“So, what we do is we buy a lot of by-products from beverage companies which act as feeds to our cows. This is because we don’t have enough silage to feed the cows. It takes about one hectare of land to feed just one big cow all year long.
“Apart from feeding, there’s also cow health challenge. There aren’t sufficient vaccines in the country. In the past, we struggled to get FMD vaccines; FMD is the foot and mouth disease that afflict cows. We’ve been looking for the vaccines and we now have them. Another one is Lumpy skin disease, LSD. If not for the intervention of the Oyo state government, we used to import the LSD vaccines from our neighboring country. So this year, we are so lucky because FrieslandCampina WAMCO and Oyo state government partnered to get us the solution regarding LSD.”
In addition, Moyosore emphasized that FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s backward integration initiatives have put an end to the bloody clashes between farmers and herders within the axis. He stressed that it is counter-productive for nomadic farmers to roam their cows across great distances in search of pasture and water.
Such cows are often malnourished and exhausted, and they produce too little milk. This ardent need for good pasture that will boost high yield in milk cows has also been addressed by FrieslandCampina WAMCO.
The news men felt privileged to have seen in Moyosore’s Genius Farms, two out of over 30 first generation Crossbreed Girolando calves that FrieslandCampina WAMCO just recently welcomed their births. They are reputed to be very high yield milk cows and the first ever in Nigeria.
According to Moyosore, “These Girolando calves are 75% crossbreed of ‘Milking Gir’ from Brazil and Holstein Friesian from the Netherlands. Girolando is the next generation of dairy production in the country.”
It would be recalled that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2001 designated June 1 as World Milk Day to raise awareness about the benefits of drinking milk and the challenges of the dairy industry. The theme for this year is “Sustainable Dairy.”