HOW MILK PRODUCTION CHANGED A VILLAGE

Since the milk quota was abolished in Europe the world market has been increasingly flooded with powdered milk. Local milk production in Burkina Faso is threatened by imported milk. Misereor is working with a project partner to assist local livestock farmers.

 

(c) Kopp /Misereor
Burkina Faso: Balkissa Diallo has been handling cattle since she was a child. (c) Florian Kopp/Misereor

Livestock breeding in Burkina Faso is carried out in large part by traditional cattle herders, the Peulh. The Peulh make up about eight percent of the population in Burkina Faso and are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. Nevertheless, they hardly have an effective lobbying group. A key reason for this is their mobile way of life: many Peulh are semi-nomadic to this day. However, due to the rapid population growth in West Africa, this is increasingly resulting in conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. The animal breeders are accused of allowing their animals to trample the crops of the settled farmers and destroying their crops. The Peulh, in turn, complain that former grazing land has been transformed into farmland. Former grazing corridors have long since ceased to exist.

 

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Instead of one liter, many of the cows now give up to four liters of milk per day. (c) Kopp/Misereor

They give milk in mixed herds, together with cattle, sheep and goats. Conditions and milk producer prices are a controversial topic in Burkina Faso, a country with 10 million cows and about 19 million inhabitants. Milk production is vital for the Peulh. At the same time, imported powdered milk powder has penetrated the market ever since the milk quota was abolished in Europe. Burkina Faso imports about EUR 198 million worth of powdered milk per year. This is already posing a threat to domestic milk production. The free trade agreement with the EU also calls for abolition of customs duties on powdered milk, which could make access to the market even easier for European producers. As a result, regional dairy farmers will lose out. Their longstanding call for greater protection from foreign imports has not been successful. On the contrary, the duties paid by EU companies will be completely abolished forever.

 

The dairy plays a central role in the village

The government in Burkina Faso plans to provide millions in aid for its dairy sector. However, the traditional settlement areas of the Peulh in the north and east of the country do not play any role in the government's plans. Milk production is crucial for their daily income. Misereor's project partner PASMEP, Plate-Forme d'Actions à la Securisation of the Menages Pastoraux, therefore provides aid, e.g. in the form of a mini-dairy, which was introduced in May 2015 and has since then played a central role.

(c) Kopp/Misereor
The women in the dairy receive raw milk and process it into yogurt. (c) Kopp/Misereor

"It has changed our village", says Mariam Diallo. She is the president of the women's union of the association which is responsible for operating the dairy. In addition to Diallo, five other women work in the dairy. Two workers are responsible for receiving the raw milk and processing it into yogurt every day, and the accountant Salam Diallo lists who is supplying how much milk. "The quantity of milk has improved since the project began", says Mariam Diallo.

 

Previously, some of the cows had given only one half to one liter of milk. The yield was particularly low during the dry season, when the feed was hardly nutritious and, above all, scarce. "Today it is two to three and, on a really good day, as high as four liters", says the 59-year-old. After all, they were trained in feed production in the initial phase of the project, at which time they learned how much this can impact milk yield. 

In this way, PASMEP is helping people increase their milk production and improve the processing and marketing of locally produced milk. MISEREOR's partner organization also helps local organizations of semi-nomadic cattle breeders organize themselves better and professionalize their operations so that they can become more involved in municipal self-government.

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Misereor is the Catholic charity for developmental cooperation. Together with local partners, Misereor supports people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

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