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Milk and dairy products, post-harvest losses and food safety in sub-Saharan Africa and the Near East (PFL)

Over $90 million worth of milk lost each year in Eastern Africa and the Near East: new FAO figures

Three-year project helping countries cut losses in dairy sector

Economic losses in the dairy sector in East Africa and the Near East due to spoilage and waste could average as much as $90 million per year, according to new studies by FAO.

The studies -- the first-ever such analyses of economic losses in Africa's dairy sector -- were conducted in five countries where FAO is working with local producers and government agencies to reduce losses of dairy products during production, transport and marketing.

Initial findings show that for just three of the countries studied, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, annual dairy losses add up to US$56million each year. Results for the other two countries, Ethiopia and Syria, are still pending.

Country studies reveal scale of losses

In Kenya, each year around 95 million litres of milk are lost, at a value of around US$ 22.4 million per year.

Cumulative losses in Tanzania amount to about 59.5 million litres of milk each year, for annual losses of around $14.3 million, FAO's studies show.

Overall, over 16% of production is lost in Tanzania's dairy sector during the dry season while losses during the wet season may surpass 25%.

In Uganda, approximately 27% of all milk produced is lost: 6% is wasted at the farm level, while 11% and 10% of production is either lost to spillage or spoilage during transport or marketing, respectively. FAO calculated the value of these losses at US $ 23 million a year.

Improved safety of dairy produce also a goal

FAO's project not only aims at reducing losses, but at improving safety and quality of the milk and dairy products as well.

Diseases like brucellosis and tuberculosis are widespread in the dairy herds of most of the countries participating in the FAO project, with 20% of some herds infected.

Milk matters

Dairy farming provides relatively quick returns for small-scale livestock keepers. It not only provides families with a balanced, nutritious food, but sales of extra milk can play an important role in bolstering household food security and reducing poverty.

FAO projects that demand for milk in the developing world will double by 2030. The vast majority of milk produced in these countries comes from small-scale farmers. Dairy imports to developing countries, in value terms, grew by 43% between 1998 and 2001. These imports could be reduced by the simple expedient of post-harvest loss reduction.

Additionally, FAO estimates that for every 100 litres of milk produced locally, up to five jobs are created in related industries like processing and transport.

Milk and dairy:

Milk loss

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World milk production, 1980-2003 (click to enlarge)
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