Botswana University of Agricultural and Natural resources (BUAN) Academics Som Pal Baliyan and Dikgang Stephen Gosalamang have observed that while dairy enterprise has the potential to create eight business opportunities it comes with a myriad of problems.
The duo conducted a study which identified eight opportunities in dairy production being grain feed production, roughage feed production, manufacturing of dairy feed, establishment of milk processing industry, development of transportation system, dairy cattle breeding, milk collection centers and the establishment of Artificial Insemination (AI) centers.
All the opportunities as well as the average mean value for the opportunities were found to be statistically significant.
Constraints identified in the agricultural sub-sector include high feed costs, feed shortage and unavailability, lack of technical support, lack of skilled manpower, high prevalence of pests and diseases, lack of dairy related technologies, difficult access to feed, high transportation costs, difficulty to acquire land for establishing dairy, lack of finance, high electricity connection charges and lack of institutions providing relevant information.
“It is observed that the top three opportunities namely, grain feed production, roughage feed production, manufacturing of dairy feed in dairy production; can also lead to the solution to the major constraints in milk production namely the high feed costs and the feed shortage and unavailability. At present, most of the feeds are imported which are not only costly but the supply and availability also is very much unreliable,” highlights the study titled: Constraints and Opportunities in Dairy Production in Botswana: Producer’s Perspectives
It further indicates that once the existing opportunities of grain feed production, fodder production and manufacturing of feed are realized in the country, this will reduce imports enabling the reduction in price as well as ensuring the availability of dairy feeds in the country. Milk production in Botswana has not increased over time due to inter alia feed shortages are also similar to the findings of this study. This may be attributable to unreliable rainfall and recurring droughts which result in seasonal pasture variations which are not able to sustain the livestock sector throughout the year.
Supplementary feeding in dairy farming is important if animals are to produce a good quantity and quality of milk throughout the year. If farmers are supplementing the feeding of their dairy animals with these expensive feeds, it increases the cost of milk production which dairy farmers cannot afford and thus, forces to shut down the milk production units. Therefore, it is suggested that all the efforts should be made to ensure the availability of enough quantity of dairy feed at reasonable prices all the times.
The study recommends that the identified constraints and opportunities as well as the strategies to mitigate the constraints need a careful consideration by the stakeholders especially, policy makers during the formulation and implementation of the policies for the development of dairy sector in Botswana
The study cautions that milk production in Botswana is decreasing at alarming rate. In 2008, a total of 8.3 million litres of milk was produced which reduced to 7.7 million liters and 5.2 million litres in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Botswana is a net importer of milk and milk products with a demand of about 48 million litres per annum, according to Ministry of Agriculture.
Thus, the milk and milk products import bill has been increasing every year. Powdered milk, fresh milk, flavored milk and a variety of dairy products such as cheese, whey, butter, dairy spreads, fats and oils derived from milk form part of the milk and milk products imports. The value of imported milk and milk products increased from P285 million in 2006 to about P423 million in 2010; according to Trade Statistics Data of 2011. This is due to high demand of milk and milk products which indicates that Botswana is not sufficient in dairy products.
This insufficiency manifested shamefully when Covid-19 forced countries to close borders, Botswana inclusive, and people had to be fed by the government.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address promised to revamp dairy production.