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					  Lovemore Mugabe at the entrance
  to his dairy farm situated in
  Hwedza, Mashonaland East

A shining example
of reform
by Fidelis Zvomuya

                ontinued dairy research into applied         “As commercial farmers we are trying to
                production and business tech-             achieve profitability at the expense of reinvestment
                niques in Zimbabwe, must receive          in order to meet increased demand and future
                academic institutional, industrial        competitiveness. This has resulted in poor product
                and government support if the             quality, poor production levels and poor business
                country’s dairy industry is to im-        viability. This can only be arrested if dairy sector
prove its competitive edge at a time when it is           research is supported by all players,” he says.
faced by economic and production challenges, a
black commercial dairy farmer says.                       Farmer numbers
    Lovemore Mugabe, owner of the 600-hectare             The Zimbabwe dairy industry is on the decline due
Magure dairy farm in Hwedza, Mashonaland East,            to escalating consumer prices against a back-
says the use of research stations, financing of dairy     drop of declining disposable income. The number
research projects focused on expertise supply and         of farmers declined from 514 in 1990 to 278 in
subsequent research result dissemination to the           2007, with an estimated 200 former dairy farms
farmer, are all vital for the successful rebuilding and   no longer being used for milk production.
revitalisation of the collapsed dairy industry.                The milking herd size declined from 191 000
    In an interview with Dairy Mail Africa, Mugabe        in 1990 to the current 33 000, giving an average
says that due to shortages of inputs, hyper-              yield of 14 litres per cow per day, down from 25
inflation and power cuts, many dairy businesses           litres. Milk production has declined by 65% from
have become unprofitable.                                 256 million litres in 1990 to 90 million in 2006.


This falls short in meeting the dairy domestic
demand estimated at 180 million litres per year.
    Producer viability is said to be undermined by
high inflation, expensive stock feed, power cuts,
inappropriate breeds, shortages of foreign currency,
high cost of drugs, fuel and equipment.
    “Our viability depends largely on policy
decisions, technological research that is aimed
at quality production for a competitive, dynamic,
market-driven and profitable dairy industry,
instead of a short-term profit focus,” he says.

                                                        Cows on Lovemore Mugabe’s dairy farm
Breed quality
According to Mugabe, access to high quality dairy
breeds for new black commercial and smallholder
dairy farmers, is still a challenge. Purebred animals
are not readily available and when they are, the
price is prohibitive – a situation that Mugabe says
government needs to look into.
    He says new farmers sometimes buy old,
spent dairy cows which should have been culled
or are not fit for dairy farming.
    “As farmers, research information can help
us invest in efficient units, more suitable breeds,
better skills to identify good breeds, training on
how to manage our farms and animals, as well as
good infrastructure suitable for dairy farming in       The milking parlour being constructed
                                                        on Lovemore’s farm
order to meet the required standards,” he says.
    The 2005 Nestlé Zimbabwe Dairy Producer of
the Year, Mugabe entered farming in 2002 after          the Dairy Support Facility that is being offered by
being allocated a 100-hectare plot under the            the Reserve Bank through its Agricultural Sector
government’s controversial land reform policy. He       Production Enhancement Facility (ASPEP).
bought 13 dairy cows and started his commercial            ASPEP is being channelled through
dairy farming venture through hand-milking.             ReNaissance Merchant Bank and involves about
                                                        Z$20 billion for contracted Nestlé milk producers.
A dairy success                                         The funds available through the programme,
A former transport operator, Mugabe then decided        assist farmers to help revitalise the dairy industry
to sell his transport business and used the money       and ensure a flow of downstream products to
to buy the farm in 2003. After the purchase, his        domestic consumers and export orders.
dairy herd increased to 185 cows-in-milk, 40 dry           Described by National Association of Dairy
cows, 115 heifers and 50 calves. Milk production        Farmers (NADF) CEO, Rob van Vuuren, as a blue
at the farm also increased to 100 000 litres per        chip and shining example of the government’s
month from 60 000.                                      land reform programme, Mugabe says that
    Currently Mugabe uses a five-point milking          farmers who are faced by ever-increasing input
parlour and has started constructing a 24-point milk-   costs, need to reduce the cost of feed by making
ing parlour that is set to see his production going     available pastures and cropping land to allow for
up to 200 000 litres per month. This is being made      the on-farm production of maize, silage, grass,
possible through a Z$18 million loan facility under     protein sources and forages.

                                                              DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 13

     A worker in Lovemore’s milking parlour

Use of land                                           productivity. Our milk production systems need a
“I have started utilising all the arable land on my   technological focus that will give us the highest
farm for feed production in order to reduce my        return per unit.
input costs. I am also in the process of sourcing         “Sexed semen is now a commodity on the
money for the construction of a dam on the            world market and there are global elite bulls
property. Currently I rely on three boreholes and     that can be accessed at affordable prices.
as I am in the process of expansion, I also need to   Zimbabwe should focus on their breeding goals
put some feed under irrigation,” Mugabe says.         that clearly align with market requirements,” he
    This year he put 300 hectares under maize         says.
silage which produced an average of five tons per         Chinhoyi University of Technology academic,
hectare. His feed rations amount to 2 550 kg per      Everlyn Garwe, says appropriate research on
day. The farm has so far achieved a conception        breeding, reproduction, proper feed and feeding
rate of 95% and more than ten farmers have            will lead to tremendous improvement in the
benefited from the farm’s heifer sales. Despite       country’s dairy sector.
all of these achievements in a period of less             “Research can sustain viability, even if prices
than three years, Mugabe says the potential           of inputs increase or even when milk producer
productivity improvement at farm level has not        prices decline. New advanced technologies in
reached full potential.                               feeding and production will lead to improved
    “Most farmers in the country face a declining     feed conversion efficiencies and improved milk
milk yield per cow, an indicator of depressed farm    production per cow,” she says. DMA

                                                           DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 15
For more information contact us on
+27 (31) 716 1700
or e-mail
                                                                  SMALLHOLDER DEVELOPMENT

Cow imports
for smallholders
                                                         Kutsaira added that it has been observed
                                                      that processing companies were buying milk at
                                                      very low prices from local farmers and some
                                                      even prefer to import. He said the ministry was
                                                      discussing with companies that they should
                                                      only buy milk from outside the country, when it
                                                      was in short supply locally.
                                                         Government is in its first phase of the
                                                      project, which would run for ten years. The
                                                      second consignment of the remaining 171
                                                      cows is expected in the country before the end
                                                      of the month. It is estimated that by the end
                                                      of ten years, government would have bought
                                                      about 10 000 cows for sale to farmers.
The deputy director for animal health and livestock   According to Kutsaira, government had put
development in Malawi, Baxter Zimba                   aside K80 million for the project and the 250

                                                      cows cost it about K71 million.
               he Malawian government has
               bought 250 dairy cows in a
               bid to increase milk production         “The cows will be sold at a subsidised
               in the country and improve the             price, which means whatever price,
               socio-economic status of small-
               holder farmers, deputy minister
                                                       government will pay something. This is
of agriculture, Bintony Kutsaira, has said.              in an effort to increase milk supply”
    The first consignment of 79 cows from South
Africa was being kept at Mpemba Quarantine                Deputy director for animal health and
Centre for screening of diseases and for the          livestock development, Baxter Zimba, said: “One
animals to adapt to the local environment for a       cow produces about 20 litres a day. Right now,
period of 28 days.                                    the country needs about 40 000 metric tons of
    The deputy minister said that more cows           milk with about 30 000 dairy cows countrywide.
would be sold to people who are willing to            There is potential that we can reach that amount
buy. Government was still discussing how              with this project in place,” he said.
much each one would cost. “They will be sold              The cows would be distributed to smallholder
at a subsidised price, which means whatever           farmers in Blantyre, Machinga, Kasungu, Lilongwe
price, government will pay something. This is         and Mzuzu.
in an effort to increase milk supply,” Kutsaira
said.                                                 (Source: Daily Times) DMA

                                                           DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 17
Milk report
by Fidelis Zvomuya
                                                                    SMALLHOLDER DEVELOPMENT

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) says that milk production in Africa
remains largely inert to international price movements, given the low participation of
producers in the continent’s formal milk sector. Hence little or no production response
to recent high prices is anticipated.

In a recent press release, the FAO says Africa’s milk   says the world “milk” price increased by 130% in
output is expected to remain stagnant in 2007, after    the last 12 months.
falling slightly in the two previous years.                In a press release IFCN says within the last 12
     “Its import dependence on milk products is         months the world market price for milk has more
growing and consists almost exclusively of milk         than doubled. Since July 2007 the price exceeds
powders. This will expose the region to a large         US$ 60 per 100 kg milk. According to IFCN, the
increase in import bills this year. The decline         main reason for this development lies much more
in milk production in Egypt, which reached a            on the “weak” milk production side and not on the
cumulative 20% in the past two years because            milk demand side as is mostly stated.
of animal disease problems, is expected to be
contained by policies to promote production.            Do dairy farmers benefit?
     “However, Kenya’s output is expected to fall       A lot of milk consumers ask if the dairy farmers
by another 3% as its industry is restructuring.         in the world really benefit from this development.
South Africa, a net importer of dairy products          When we talk about dairy farmers, we talk about
subject to a tariff quota and internal price setting,   150 million farmers and their families worldwide.
is expected to see output shrink by a further 1%        Assuming there are six people per family, this
in 2007, as higher maize prices impact on milk          adds up to 0,9 billion people involved.
profitability,” the FAO says.                               So far most of the farmers do not get the
                                                        historically high world market prices. In most
Price surges                                            countries we have observed a significant time
In its Food Outlook Global Market Analysis Report       lag, until local prices respond to world market
published in June this year, the FAO says that the      developments. This time lag of price transmission
international market prices of dairy products have      ranges from two months to probably years in
skyrocketed since the December edition of Food          some cases.
Outlook.                                                    The future milk price levels will be determined
     The extent of the price surge has been             by farmers’ and consumers’ reactions on rising
remarkable – the FAO’s index of international dairy     prices. To estimate the future milk supply,
product prices increased 46% between November           the IFCN has established a milk production
2006 and April 2007, when it reached a record           monitoring system covering more than 1 400
value of 213 (basis 100 in 1998-2000).                  regions of the world. Some regions have been
     Prices for milk powders have soared even           able to increase milk production up to 50%
higher: Skim milk powder and whole milk                 annually over a five-year period. This shows that
powder prices have increased by 56% and 61%             the production response can be quite fast. So
respectively since November. Cheese and butter          world prices will stay high until they reach the
prices have increased by a more modest 18% and          farmers.
34% respectively. Record prices for all products            The IFCN is a network of dairy researchers
are due to both short term and underlying               from over 70 countries. The IFCN has been
structural causes.                                      analysing the economic situation of dairy farming
     However, the size of the price spike for milk      worldwide since the year 2000.
powders is primarily attributable to the exhaustion         For more information and details, go to www.
of public stocks in the European Union. The    or contact the IFCN Dairy Research
International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN)            Centre in Kiel, Germany. DMA

                                                             DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 1

 Ten golden rules
 for clean milking equipment
 by Izak Hofmeyr

              lean, hygienic milking equip-
              ment is critical for the deliv-
              ery of good quality milk. The
              cleaning process consists of
              four steps, namely rinsing,
              washing, acid treatment and
sanitising. Together with these four steps,
there are some golden rules related to the
effective cleaning of milking equipment. Les
Vermeulen of Ecolab tells us more.

1. Temperature
If you can keep your hands in the soap water         6. Rinse throroughly
for more than a few seconds, the water is too        The first step in the cleaning process is to rinse
cold.                                                the machine properly with clean water until the
                                                     outlet is completely clean. Only then cleaning
2. Time                                              agents may be used.
Wash water is only effective if the starting
temperature was between 65 and 70°C. Wash            7. Supervision
only for as long as the temperature of the wash      New machines often have an injector system
water remains above 45°C. This normally has          on the milking lines. If this injector system is
a window period of around seven minutes.             switched off or is malfunctioning, the milk ma-
Temperature is not that important when you           chine will not wash correctly. It is extremely
want to descale with acid. Here the duration of      important that the wash process is properly
exposure to the acid is more important.              monitored from point to point, whether the
                                                     machine is supplied with an automatic wash
3. Mechanical action                                 system or not.
Whether you use a bit of elbow grease by doing
it manually, or whether you have a machine that      8. Monitor the use of wash agents/­
does the washing, soap will not be effective if      detergents
the mechanical action of the machine, or the         Make a mark or tick on the side of the wash-
brush used for hand-washing is not functioning       ing agent or detergent from time to time, to
properly.                                            ensure that the machine will in fact draw the
                                                     soap and acid into the system during the
4. Water quality                                     wash process.
Water that carries a heavy organic load such as
borehole water or water with a high concentra-       . Milk tank monitoring
tion of minerals, or of which the pH is espe-        Put your hand inside the milk tank during the
cially high or low, will have a detrimental effect   washing process to ensure that the water
on the washing process.                              reaches the cover with sufficient force – this is
                                                     critical for effective cleaning.
5. Concentrations
Make sure that you follow the specifications for     10. Stick with approved products
the washing agent or detergent, using the right      Use only proven and approved detergents and
concentrations.                                      agents. DMA

                                                           DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 21

 Take care
 of your calves
 by Fidelis Zvomuya


In most dairy herds the annual number of calf deaths is very high, with some farmers
recording more than 20% deaths compared to beef cattle. Newborn calves require
optimal care for maximum health and performance.

Feeding and management of newborn calves is            protect the calf from heat, cold, wind and rain.
one of the most important, and can be the most         Adequate space, animal comfort, and proper
challenging, job on a dairy farm. The newborn          ventilation are important in designing a facility
heifer calf is the most genetically advanced and       for your calf. Facilities should be accessible for
at the same time, the most susceptible to disease      thorough cleaning and disinfection on a regular
and environmental challenges.                          basis to reduce the number of pathogens.
     Having a quality nutrition and management             It is important for a cow to calve in a clean,
protocol in place will largely dictate the success     germ-free environment, preferably in a dry, open
of a calf programme. The goal of any calf rearing      camp away from other animals.
programme should be to produce a healthy                   Then after the calf has been weaned, it must
weaned calf, ready to move into the heifer growth      be kept in a separate pen. The size of the pen
phase with no disease damage to impair growth          should be about 1m x 1,5 m with a minimum
and productivity. Heifer calves are raised as          height of one metre, a concrete floor and firm
replacements for lactating cows and are essential      partitions between the calves.
to the successful future of the dairy industry.            It is best to keep the calves individually
     The greatest mortality and morbidity period for   penned until they are at least one month old.
dairy cattle is from birth to weaning. Management      The main advantage of individual housing is that
goals for the first six to eight weeks of a calf’s     the incidence of cross infection is reduced. Wet
life, should be to maximise disease and mortality      bedding must be replaced by dry bedding on a
by providing a suitable environment, establishing      daily basis. The building should be kept dry, have
a quality nutritional programme and implementing       good ventilation and must be disinfected regularly.
a preventive health care plan.                         Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
     These calf deaths are attributed to a number of
factors including the keeping of too many animals      Feeding
in a confined area, the milk prices that make long-    The first four days a calf must ingest sufficient
term feeding of it to calves uneconomic, calf pens     colostrum within three hours after birth. Heavy
that limit exercise for the production of body heat    breeds must be given two litres and light ones 1,5
on a cold day as well as the pens that prevent the     litres. Colostrum has ingredients that immunise the
calves from moving to a more favourable position       calf against diseases. After 24 hours the calf is
when the pen becomes hot, wet or humid. So             removed from the dam and placed in a separate
says Ajs Kirk, one of the leading dairy commercial     pen where it receives milk from a bucket, artificial
farmers in Zimbabwe.                                   teat or stomach tube. Try and give colostrum up
     Kirk believes that calf deaths can be reduced     to the age of four days, as this has a protective
considerably through the provision of good             influence on the calf’s stomach.
housing, feeding and management that will see               Feeding calves with full cream milk or milk
the prevention of diseases. “Although a calf often     replacements is expensive. Therefore it is
dies as a result of diseases that occur frequently,    recommended that the calf be weaned as soon
the real cause of the problem is actually the calf’s   as possible and then raised on dry feed normally
weakened resistance,” he says. Here are some           called dry feed system.
valuable tips to arrest calf deaths on your farm.           At birth the calf’s rumen is still small and the
                                                       milk goes directly to the abomasums. At this
Housing                                                stage it is still not ready to digest roughage. The
Calf housing should provide an environment that        rumen must therefore be stimulated to develop by
is clean and dry to minimise stress. It must also      giving the calf dry feed as early as possible.

                                                             DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 23

    At this stage calves must be given milk or
milk replacement only twice a day. From the
age of seven days, a calf must commence with
a bowl of meal next to the milk bucket. Some
of the meal must be rubbed onto the calf’s
mouth after it has taken in milk or by putting
a little in the bucket after the calf has finished
the milk.
    Provide fresh milk every day. Moist or hard
meal is unpalatable to the calf. It must also be
provided with fresh, clean drinking water daily.
The water must be kept away from the calf for
one hour before and after it gets milk. The calf
must not be allowed to drink too much water as
this may result in them having diarrhoea.              Calf housing should provide an environment
    As soon as the calf ingests about 700 g of         that is clean and dry to minimise stress
the commencement meal per day usually at
the age of five to six weeks, it can be weaned
from milk. From weaning until the age of three
months, the calf receives a maximum of 1,5 kg
of commencement meal as well as good quality

Good management is the most important aspect
in the intensive raising of calves. It is essential
that the farmer be observant and keep a daily
check on his animals in order to be able to act
preventively to solve any problems as soon as
they crop up.
    Calves must be marked immediately after
birth. Cut off superfluous teats and disinfect the     The first four days a calf must ingest sufficient
cut. A stitch to draw the edges of the skin together   colostrum within three hours after birth
will promote healing. From the age of four to six
weeks, the corniculate processes can be burned.
Let an expert demonstrate this procedure.
    Bullocks can be castrated with a burdizzo
at the age of three month. At the age of four to
five months all calves must be inoculated against
anaplasmosis. Heifers must be inoculated against
    Calves need to be disbudded to prevent their
horns growing or they are dehorned. If kept well
and properly managed, an offspring of a high
producing dairy cow will end up being a genetic
monster meaning that she will be capable of
producing far more milk.

(References available from the author) DMA             Dehorning is important for every calf

                                                              DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 25

 Blessing or bummer?
 by Lynette Louw

                lants and plant crops have always        anymore – not even smallholder farmers. While
                and will always be of vital importance   it might seem scary, the possibilities offered
                to humankind. Plant crops are an         by efficient developments, for example in
                essential source of food for humans      conventional seed breeding, supported by gene
                and of feed for animals and livestock.   technology and plant genomic research, will
                It is also a raw material for many       improve the prospects of being able to use our
 a product and is a major source of energy,              limited and ever-decreasing natural resources.
 especially in view of recent major developments             The appropriate use and development of
 in the bio-fuels industry.                              these aspects, promises to ensure sustainable
     One of the main concerns in agriculture has         production for both man and animal. In recent
 always been to improve the quality of seed              years a major portion of crop research has
 in order for plant crops to adapt to changing           focused on the development and performance of
 circumstances and growing needs. Agriculture            new and improved crop varieties that are tolerant
 worldwide, and especially in Africa, is confronted      to drought and water stress. Trials have also been
 with a wide range of complex challenges.                done on crops that are resistant to disease and
     Available farm land is diminishing; farmers are     pests, that have a higher nutrient content and can
 faced with climatic changes and declining water         easily adapt to local ecosystems across Africa.
 resources; there is a growing demand for food               According to seed producers, Monsanto, trials
 and feed; fuel is becoming more expensive and           for a new drought-resistant gene to be used in
 scarce due to the rising oil price; and industry        genetically modified (GM) crops, will start soon
 is becoming increasingly based on products              in various locations in South Africa. These trials
 derived from so-called “functional” plants (these       come in the wake of a possible 20% reduction
 are literally plants that are classified according to   in the maize crop over the next 25 years, due to
 their properties, such as its survival ability, water   climate change.
 relations and growth).                                      According to Monsanto, 30% of maize in South
                                                         Africa is at risk of failing because of drought. The
 Why farm scientifically?                                drought tolerant product causes maize plants
 Scientific knowledge-based agriculture has              to make more efficient use of water, while also
 become a reality that no farmer can escape              tolerating the absence of water – a major aspect


of farming in Africa and worth its weight in gold.           In Nairobi a leading international agricultural
Monsanto reckons that over 55% of all maize              policy group also recently urged African nations
planted for the next harvest, will be genetically        to drop their opposition to biotechnology crop
modified.                                                research and GM foods, as cooperation could
                                                         dramatically improve food security. Researchers
What are the benefits?                                   from the International Food Policy Research (IFPR)
In spite of their successes, Monsanto and other          Institute said that regulatory and legal hurdles
seed companies have received some scathing               needed to be removed if technology were to
criticism over the past few years, with some             assist Africa in feeding its people.
saying that GM crops benefit only the companies              In a study released by the IFPR, research
developing it. Some feel that Africa has become          on 20 different crops in four African countries
the last outpost for GM seed companies to test           show that the easing of regulations will improve
their wares, after many European companies               plants’ resistance to disease and pests. The
have closed their doors.                                 research conducted in Egypt, Kenya, South Africa
     In a report issued by the Johannesburg-based        and Zimbabwe also showed that an easing of
African Centre for Biosafety and the Nigerian            regulations will boost food production.
organisation, Friends of the Earth, statements
are made claiming that the only reason for the           Knowledge is power
increase in GM crops in a number of countries, is        It seems as if one of the major pitfalls in the whole
because of the aggressive strategies followed by         GM debate, is the lack of knowledge among
the biotech industry.                                    farmers regarding the benefits and dangers or
     According to the report, the past ten years         shortfalls of GM crops. Few African countries have
of GM crop promotion has done nothing for the            the resources to conduct the necessary research
continent and that more than 80% of biocrops             and disseminate information and findings to the
are still concentrated in only three countries – the     population. In fact, most countries don’t have a
US, Argentina and Canada. A spokesperson for             clear national GM policy in place.
Friends of the Earth states that: “… the safety of           Some African countries are simply refusing
GM crops cannot be ensured and … these crops             to allow GM foods over their borders. Zambia
are neither cheaper nor better quality. Biotech          recently maintained that it will not allow these
crops are not a solution to solve hunger in Africa       foods to enter its territory, despite shortages and
or elsewhere.”                                           the country being largely dependent on western
     However, the proponents of GM crops reckon that     food aid. Zambia says that it will not expose its
this is one of the few ways in which the continent can   people to food of which the effects have not been
stave off a hunger epidemic of massive proportions.      properly researched.
According to Prof Iqbal Parker, a biotechnologist            Angola has much the same attitude, having
at the University of Cape Town, Africa will have a       rejected shipments of maize, most of which
projected cereal crop shortfall of 88,7 million tons     originated from the USA, and which may have
by 2025, with the population having doubled to 1,5       contained GM maize. The reason was the same:
billion in the same period.                              The safety of these foods is questionable.

                                                               DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 27
                                                                                                                              CATTLE BREEDS OF
                                                                                                                               SOUTH AFRICA
                                                                                                                                   An index of breeds and
                                                                                                                                    overview of industry


                                                                                                                              Albert Loubser
                                                                                                                              Dr Nico Schutte

                  presents                                                                                                                 presents

 “Vaccines and immunisation of                                                                                                    “Cattle Breeds of
         farm animals”                                                                                                              South Africa”
      by Drs Jan du Preez and Faffa Malan                                                                                compiled by Albert Loubser and Dr Nico Schutte

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   PRICE APPLICABLE TO COUNTRIES                                                                                         PRICE APPLICABLE TO COUNTRIES
      OUTSIDE OF SOUTH AFRICA                                                                                               OUTSIDE OF SOUTH AFRICA
       AND GIVEN IN SA RAND                                                                                                  AND GIVEN IN SA RAND

     To order your copy, contact                                                                                            To order your copy, contact
        Charlene Potgieter on                                                                                                  Charlene Potgieter on
          tel +27 12 843 5703,                                                                                                   tel +27 12 843 5703,
  e-mail                                                                                      e-mail
          or fax 012 804 9531                                                                                                     or fax 012 804 9531


Safe or not?                                                the farmer can at least in the meanwhile ascertain
Safety seems to be the main concern in most                 himself of the following facts:
African countries. But all the while, millions of           • From an ethical point of view, it is good to
hungry Africans are starving to death. What do                 know that there are no human or animal genes
the experts say about the safety issue?                        in commercialised GM foods
    The main source of worry is the potential for           • Genetic modification is a reality of our time
allergic reactions. According to a report titled               and over 1 000 companies worldwide are
Food Safety and GM Crops: Implications for                     developing products using gene technology
Developing-Country Research, the authors cite               • Regulators, consumers and industry are
one example of allergenic concerns that arose in               currently considering methods such as labeling
the summer of 2000, when traces of Starlink™                   to inform consumers accurately about which
corn were detected in some food products.                      foods are genetically modified. This will empower
    Starlink™ was approved for use in animal                   consumers to make an informed choice
feed, but not for human consumption. The                    • An animal or human that ingests a GM product,
commingling of the product with corn in the food               does not become a genetically modified
chain was unintentional, but led to concerns about             being.
food safety. However, according to the report               • GM crops can definitely pave the way for
most GM products are considered substantially                  better quality food
equivalent to their traditional counterparts and no         • GM crops saves the farmer time and energy in
actual safety problems have been identified in GM              producing the crop, as less time is spent on
products approved for use when the report was                  pest control and the impact of birds
issued in 2003.                                             • GM crops can lead to more efficient and
    But in March 2007, Greenpeace International                sustainable food production
and an independent group of scientists were the             • GM seeds can increase crop yield, food quality
first to claim that a GM product cleared as safe               and the diversity of foods, which can all result
for human and animal consumption, had in fact                  in improved health and nutrition.
shown signs of toxic effects in internal organs.
According to the study, laboratory rats fed with            There are as many benefits to GM products as there
a Monsanto GM maize variety, showed signs of                are drawbacks. In the end, one should decide for
toxicity in their kidneys and livers, and showed            oneself which of the two is more scientific. The
differences in weight gain between the sexes.               World Health Organisation (WHO) has also expressed
                                                            its opinion on GM products, saying that these foods
What to do?                                                 can contribute positively to human health and
The debate rages on and despite claims to either            development, but that safety assessments prior to
side, hunger in Africa is rapidly taking its toll. Trials   marketing remain essential.
for GM crops are still under way and for the man                Which brings us back to regulations and laws
in the street (or on the farm) the choice of whether        and the responsibility that governments have
or not to cultivate GM crops, will ultimately be a          towards their people. Indeed, as with all things,
personal one. However, we cannot make a choice              there are pros and cons and it is governments’
if there is no product to choose from. And the              jobs to regulate those pros and cons with proper
decision to regulate and allow GM crops into a              legislation. As farmers and consumers we need to
country, lies in the hands of government.                   put food on the table and we need to do it armed
    In view of the uncertainty and opposing views,          with information, knowledge and choice. DMA

                                                                  DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 2
Look and learn
at the All Africa Dairy Expo!
Join us from 12 to 13 February 2008
at the Afri-Dome in Parys, Free State

•   Exhibitions and stalls open from 08:00 to 17:00
•   Various courses to improve your skills
•   Queen of the Expo
•   Braai and music from 18:30 every evening
•   Entry R40 & tickets available at the gate

For stall bookings, contact
Mabel Schmahl on tel 012 843 5694 or cell 082 563 4427
or e-mail
Karin Duffy on 012 843 5697 or cell 082 376 6396
or e-mail

For general and course information and bookings, con-
Julie McLachlan on tel 012 843 5745 or e-mail

                                                                     FINANCIAL AND
                                                                   CORPORATE SPONSOR

   DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007                                 MEDIA SPONSOR

Learn more at the
All Africa Dairy Expo

                 ext year’s All Africa Dairy Expo has
                 something on offer for everyone
                 and promises to be fun-filled and
                 informative. “The main aim of the
                 Expo is the transfer of knowledge
                 and technology and is a must-see
for commercial and developing dairy producers,”
says Dr Nico Schutte, managing director of the
Centre for Producer Development (CenDel) and
the man responsible for the Expo. CenDel is an
affiliate of the Milk Producers’ Organisation.
     The All Africa Dairy Expo is held every other
year and will take place on 12 and 13 February
2008 at the Afri-Dome in Parys, Free State. Apart
from the many exhibitors, several interesting and
informative courses will be presented.
     One of the main attractions is the obstetrics
for cattle course presented by Onderstepoort
Genealogy Department. This course will focus on
corrective measures the farmer can take when
things go wrong during calving. The course is ideal
for dairy and cattle farmers and workers who are
responsible for taking care of calving cows.
     Other courses include making feta and mozzarella
cheese, russians and salami, and pickling meat.
These courses will be presented by experts from
the Agricultural Research Council. Other options are
flower arranging and embroidery.
     The Ayrshire Cattle Association will show their
cows at the Expo and will compete with Holsteins,
Jerseys and Dairy Swiss for the sought-after
Queen of the Expo crown.
     For further enquiries and bookings for the
courses, contact Julie McLachlan at tel 012 843
5745, fax 012 804 4811 or e-mail julie@cendel. Or visit the website at
     The entry fee for the All Africa Dairy Expo is R40
per day and tickets will be available at the gates.
     For further information, contact Julie McLachlan
at 012 843 5745. DMA

                                                          DAIRY MAIL AFRICA • DECEMBER 2007 31