FrieslandCampina’s Dairy Development Programme (DDP) is a CSR exercise aimed at improving feeding and other farming techniques of farmers across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
It says the program has helped train thousands of farmers in modern farming techniques, which span animal feed, water management, milking techniques and animal health, as it looks to raise the bar of farming techniques in these parts of the world.
Speaking to Feed Navigator, Sybren Attema, coordinator of the company’s DDP in Africa and Asia, said farming in Africa and Asia was being hindered by farmers having a lack of understanding of modern farming methods.
In particular, they have a lack of insight into the watering needs of cows and were hamstrung by the poor quality of roughage to feed cows, he said.
“They don’t have the right knowledge to raise cows. They feed cows like pigs and poultry but you have to feed cows in a totally different way.”
Attema pointed to the fact that farmers were watering cows just once or twice a day and not making water available 24 hours a day for them.
He also said the Elephant and Napier grass fed to cows in South Africa and Asia which had a “lot of fibre” but lacked protein.
FrieslandCampina is teaching farmers to grow Mulato grass as a replacement grass.
“The quantity is less. But it has more benefits for the cow because the crude protein is higher than Napier grass.”
He said changing some of the techniques employed by farmers took just weeks:
“If you teach the farmer today he should not water cows and animals only twice a day but he should have fresh drinking water available the whole day that is the low hanging fruit. He will see the results of that within one week.”
However, changing the mindset of farmers to adopt other techniques and learn the skills to build corn silos, could take 20 years, he added.
“If I see the current practices and where we would like to have them, it takes one generation.”
FrieslandCampina said its DDP has helped train 18,000 farmers in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe on animal health, feed, stock management, milk quality and hygiene to date.
It says it has helped raise raw milk quality, increased productivity per cow and helped support farmers in finding a market for their milk across African and Asia.