Cameroon cooperative’s services pull herders, women to commercial dairy

Edition 10Special Report
Patu Jume Shang, a biochemist by training and a value chain specialist

“When we found out the enormous work the women here were doing manually, albeit in the background, we engaged in this dairy farm project to bring them to the fore,” Ms Shang said.

Today the Mbororo women constitute 75 percent of the dairy farmers who supply the Tadu milk processing factory. The factory makes yoghurt, butter and cheese using modern equipment.

About 300 smallholder dairy farmers supply milk to the factory and over 30,000 families rely on dairy farming under the cooperative as their source of income. The cooperative collects 3,000 litres of milk daily. The success story of Tadu has secured it support from the government and other agencies with interest in the dairy value chain.

The smallholders Dairy Development Project (SDDP) has facilitated the assembling of critical pieces of dairy development equipment and infrastructure such as range management appliances, water supply networks, electrical power supply lines, adequate cattle crossbreeding stations as well as adapted milk collection and transformation facilities.

[rt_dropcap_style dropcap_letter=”D” dropcap_content=”AIRY farming has traditionally been practised in Cameroon manually especially among the nomadic Mbororo community. But Patu Jume Shang, a biochemist by training and a value chain specialist, broke with the tradition a few years ago when she set up the Tadu Dairy Cooperative in Kumbo in Northwest region to mechanise dairy production.”]

Today, Tadu brands dairy products such as processed milk, cheese and yoghurt are household names in Cameroon.

The success of the multipurpose cooperative, with its adoption of Cameroon cooperative’s services pull herders, women to commercial dairy modern equipment, improved dairy breeds, improved production practices and modern value-adding technologies, has made over 400 cattle herders take interest in dairy production.

Ms Shang said there was need to modernise dairy farming in Cameroon in general and the Northwest in particular.

“I opted to invest in the domain to satisfy growing demand,” she said. The Tadu Dairy Cooperative started off using artificial insemination to upgrade the local breeds.

“The red Fulanis and the white Fulanis which are the local breeds here gave us just about a litre or two of milk. So, since we needed much milk, we decided to improve the breeds,” said Ms Shang.

The co-operative project now provides its members with access to new breeds, improved production practices and modern value-adding technologies.

The project idea was born out of the need to modernise the traditional system of dairy hitherto practised by the local Fulani and Mbororo herders in the region.

Also, there was need to empower the Mbororo women who were doing a lot of work to support their husbands but their efforts remained in the background.

“Our farmers and dairy employees have been trained on improved hygiene during the milking and processing phases (thermal treatment, packaging and storage) and entire dairy production chain,” Ms Shang said.

Tadu works with the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry on quality aspects such as regular supply of natural nutrients, cleanliness, testing for alcohol and fat contents in the milk and checking for milk adulteration with water.

The project, however, faces some difficulties, including irregular electricity supply and bad roads that make transportation of raw materials to the production center and later the market challenging.

There is equally insufficient number of vans to deliver the finished products to consumers far and near. However, Tadu Dairy Cooperative officials say they are making inroads, expanding yoghurt, cheese and butter sales in Bui, Bamenda, Yaounde and beyond. Tadu dairy products are sold throughout Cameroon and some parts of Nigeria.

The per capita milk production in 2010 stood in Cameroon at 12.8 kg while per capita consumption was at 15.3 kg in 2010. But by 2021, milk production in the country had substantially increased from 48,000 tonnes to 204,000 tonnes, partly thanks to the contribution of agribusiness projects like Tadu.

However, the production is far from satisfying the local demand for milk and milk products, experts say. The project has triggered many other enterprises along the value chain, including feed retailing shops selling cotton seed cake, wheat bran, rice bran, soya bean cake, fish meal, palm kernel cake, bone ash, limestone meal and blood meal.

“Our vision is to expand dairy production growth and development in Africa through small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Ms Shang

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