Kanye — The assistant minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security has commended the Lobatse based Milk Afric (MA) project for employing many young people who are conversant with dairy farming.
Ms Beauty Manake, who was touring the project in Lobatse recently that once operational, said the project would complement the national milk supply.
Ms Manake said the project could be functional and generating income by now if it was not for delays in importing cows, urging stakeholders, among them her ministry, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) and Botswana Development Corporation Limited (BDC) to come aboard and facilitate its completion.
She said she appreciated the challenges the company had experienced and how they were moving forward to make up for the lost time.
BDC, head of Risk, Mr Botshelo Mokotedi said they were currently looking to partner with the private sector adding they did not have a technical partner at the moment.
Out of the P92 million earmarked for the project, Mr Mokotedi said they had so far expended P48 million on construction while the rest of the funds would be channeled towards buying cows.
Milk Afric chief financial officer, Mr Davison Charamba said the parlor would be the largest in the country, at full capacity.
He said the project started in 2011 but had delays finding land, which was eventually allocated in 2013.
Mr Charamba said the actual construction began in 2017 on the 1 300 hectares of land and was ready for operation in 2019.
But the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in South Africa in 2019 at the time when they had expected to import cows stalled the project.
Mr Charamba said they also tried to import from Australia but failed due to the COVID-19 movement restrictions.
He said they invested in training and have a team of 15 Batswana who studied at the University of Florida, eight among them having studied dairy management while seven were equipped for general milk parlor operations.
At full capacity, Mr Charamba said the project would house 2 000 to 2 500 cows producing 30 litres of milk each per a day. This he explained, translated into 20 million litres per year, which is a third of the national milk demand.
Mr Charamba said the project was currently at phase one which entailed the construction of milking parlor, one cow housing, feed bunkers, establishing the biosecurity and procuring the initial batch of 500 cows.
He said the project would become an anchor for farmers who would partake in crop and milk production with a secondary employment of 250 employees.
Mr Charamba said they had so far worked with stakeholders in terms of investment and technical expertise and advice on diseases in the area.
Milk Afric Outgrow and Dairy manager, Mr Tumelo Kebinaefe said that the operators had been trained to use the most recent and advanced technological methods of milking such as the Rotary Parlor.
Mr. Kebinaefe said although cows naturally produced milk for their young ones, they were trained to stimulate them to be milked.
He said the Rotary Parlor provided data and would therefore need the services of a data manager to interpret and analyze the data daily.
Source : BOPA