After being delayed for two years in obtaining an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, the multimillion milking parlour of MilkAfric is expected to kick-start next year April.
MilkAfric Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Phil Matibe said on Thursday during a media tour that the MilkAfric milking parlour is part of an integrated value chain aimed at producing the highest quality milk and ensuring cow comfort. He said in a rotary parlour the cow stands on a circular raised platform, allowing the milkers to attach the milking machine from below.
“This safe, operator-friendly environment will help us retain the best herdsmen, is safe for the operator, safe for the animal, and safe for the product,” he said.
He further stated that MilkAfric is investing in a 72 stall auto rotor performer plus rotary milking parlour from GEA Farm Technologies, Westfalia, Germany. He added that the benefits for this advanced technology include, low running costs due to long life and low maintenance requirement, large groups of cows can be milked very quickly and the ability to personalise the rotation speed and direction, feeding, and other features to suit MilkAfric’s herd.
“MilkAfric is structured in a way that includes the local farming community through the Out Grower Net programme. We have already contracted farmers to grow silage for our dairy herd. The intention is to be able to stockpile enough feed reserve for 2 years as a contingency,” said Matibe.
He pointed out that Out Grower Net programme is a smallholder empowerment and commercialisation scheme designed to bring entrant farmers into the milk value chain.
MilkAfric CEO said his dairy farm is a P 100 million investment projected which makes a sustainable contribution to Botswana’s dairy industry. He added that part of this investment includes the human capital development which starts with MilkAfric sending 15 young Batswana for training with their technical partners at Alliance Dairies in Trenton, Florida and at the University of Florida in the USA for a 12 month Dairyman programme.
“Since we received the EIA approval at the beginning of the year, MilkAfric has been constructing roads, drilling for more boreholes, erecting bio security infrastructure and ancillary facilities.
He stated that capital costs which include agricultural equipment such as tractors and irrigation infrastructure – reservoirs, pipeline, water purification and centre pivots, consumes a sizeable portion of the investment. He added that the rest of the capital expenditure is earmarked for the running costs, salaries, wages, and other day to day costs.
“MilkAfric’s has an inclusive vision of building an African success story in Botswana’s dairy industry. This development can indeed become a source of national pride where a community has input, to varying degrees, in producing world class dairy products right here in Botswana,” he stated.
Matibe further said that MilkAfric expects to produce in access of 60 000 litres per milking day session from its 2000 strong milking herd with each cow producing at least 30 litres per day for a total annual production of 21,900,000 litres. He added that the quantities will begin to significantly address the national demand currently pegged at 65 million litres of raw milk demand.