Dairy development and dairy marketing in sub-Saharan Africa Some preliminary indicators of policy impacts

Mbogoh SG. Dairy development and dairy marketing in sub-Saharan Africa Some preliminary indicators of policy impacts.; 1984.


OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, sub-Saharan Africa experienced relatively low growth rates in the production of dairy products compared with the average for all developing countries. Total consumption of dairy products grew relatively much faster during the same period. However, available data suggest that the consumption of goat and sheep milk declined in East Africa between 1963 and 1980 and that of camel's milk stagnated. Only the consumption of cow's milk increased fairly rapidly in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa over the last two decades. During the 1970s the population of sub-Saharan Africa grew at a rate of 2.9% per annum. Over the same period dairy production grew at a rate of about 1.9% per annum, while the consumption of dairy products increased at a rate of 2.1 % per annum. The trade deficit in dairy products in sub-Saharan Africa increased alarmingly over the last two decades: while in 1963 the dairy trade deficit for the region was about US$ 39 million, the figure had risen to about US$ 81 million by 1970 and to US$ 575 million by 1980. The major components of the imports were milk and butter and to a lesser extent cheese. The systems of dairy development and dairy marketing in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa have one common feature: the dairy economy is dominated by a relatively underdeveloped dairy marketing subsystem in the traditional livestock subsector. Most countries in the region have both a formal dairy marketing subsystem, which caters primarily for urban milk supplies, and an informal marketing subsystem, which operates especially in the rural areas. There is some evidence that the informal marketing subsystems tend to be low-cost operations and that they are in a position to pay higher prices to producers. With milk production in sub-Saharan Africa being well below the effective demand for milk and milk products, the region will continue to depend on dairy imports to close the dairy deficit in the foreseeable future. Measures to improve the marketing infrastructure in order to facilitate the distribution of recombined fluid milk derived mainly from imported milk powder and butter oil, will also be needed. The need to link rural and urban areas in a more efficient milk distribution network must therefore receive top priority. Most food policies in developing countries, and especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, appear to be aimed at providing cheap food to urban populations. A strategy of dairy development through the creation of producer incentives, with producer prices and price controls as the main policy instruments, is limited chiefly by the need to strike a balance between the producer price and the retail price. The pricing problem appears to be at the core of programmes for improving dairy development and dairy marketing. Governments are often sensitive to the level of food prices, particularly for the urban poor. Variations in the quality of the products offered for sale, whereby consumer prices are differentiated, could help achieve certain nutritional objectives. For instance, the introduction of 'toned' (more expensive) and 'double-toned' (less expensive) liquid milk in India has made it possible to sell pasteurized milk to both higher-income and lower-income groups in the metropolitan areas. Generally, sub-Saharan Africa could learn from the experience of dairy development in India, where petty milk traders have been integrated into the overall milk collection and distribution system, thus creating a complementary rather than a competitive relationship in the operations of the country's dairy industry.

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