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«FAO ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND HEALTH paper ADDING VALUE TO LIVESTOCK DIVERSITY Marketing to promote local breeds and improve livelihoods Cover ...»

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Producers also face major challenges:

Physical environment. The Sahelian environment is a challenge in itself: recurrent drought, irregular rainfall and extreme temperatures are not ideal for dairying.

Policy. There is a total lack of government policy, interest, help or encouragement.

There are few roads, no veterinary care, no support, no extension work, no education, and no assistance with technical know-how.

Fodder. The rising price of fodder and the absence of local production (except for some concentrate made from imported raw materials) have discouraged many producers.


At first, competition came only from sterilized milk imported from Europe. Tiviski’s pasteurized milk was sold at higher prices than this imported milk until 1999, when higher production made it possible to squeeze Tiviski’s price into the same bracket. Although the Adding value to livestock diversity dairy’s fresh milk sales rose every time the imported milk was scarce, Tiviski’s fresh milk did occupy its own market share.

However, in 1997, local competition started.

A powerful businessman diversified from cement bagging, commerce and banking to start an identical operation, taking half of Tiviski’s suppliers without seeking new ones.

A banker imported Holstein cows, together with French staff and fodder, and aggressively marketed raw (non-pasteurized) milk in cartons. This enterprise failed after 2 years for two reasons: (a) the expensive cattle were not used to local conditions, so gave low yields of 10 litres a day; and (b) raw milk has a very short shelf life.

This banker then sold the cows and equipment to a local entrepreneur, who sold raw Holstein milk in buckets and made cultured milk from powder. He recently started collecting milk of local breeds and selling it in cartons.

More recently, an existing unit has also begun collecting fresh milk, pasteurizing it and selling it in cartons.

Three competitors in a very small market makes things difficult. Tiviski’s peak production (a rare occurrence) is about 20 000 litres a day, but it can stagnate below 10 000 litres a day for months on end – way below any reasonable break-even point. Competitors operate on even smaller quantities, and yet the myth is that “the market is unlimited”.

The size of the market depends on how much people can spend. If the economy improves, sales increase, but conversely every crisis reduces sales.


Before Tiviski started operating, fresh milk was practically not marketed at all in Mauritania, except for a few thousand litres sold raw by herders who lived near the cities direct to consumers or to small-scale milk retailers (Figure 29). Most fresh milk was consumed by families who owned animals.

Now milk production and related enterprises are a significant economic activity in the supplying regions. The value chain extends upwards to animal feed suppliers, and down to consumers, including collectors, the processing plant and retailers.


The policy environment has been neutral or negative. The Mauritanian government has shown no interest in the industry and has not tried to protect it from cheap foreign imports.

European Union regulations have prevented camel cheese from being exported to the nearest affluent, cheese-eating market.

–  –  –

The price Tiviski pays producers depends on the need to keep producers in business, but also on the market. For example, in 2008, Tiviski raised the price it paid producers (as well as its retail price). But soaring fodder prices forced herders to take their animals into Senegal, leading to a sharp drop in production. Tiviski could not afford to raise retail prices further, and the camels were not yielding enough milk to pay for their feed.

In the dairy’s 20 years’ work, herders have practically never had to ask for a price rise, as the company has always forestalled their need. If times get difficult, meetings are held, difficulties are explained, undertakings are made. Tiviski’s competitors seem to suffer more pressure from their suppliers. Mobile telephones have made communication even more direct, and frequent field visits by the dairy’s liaison officer provide a day-to-day awareness of the producers’ state of mind.

Adding value to livestock diversity


Tiviski has invested heavily in training the producers how to supply milk in a way a modern dairy plant needs: hygienically and on time. In 2001, a specialized unit was set up to provide training, veterinary care and fodder on credit.

In the long run, it appears that non-material incentives do not work. Suppliers now know all about hygienic milking, but may not take the trouble do so as a matter of routine.

Historically – in other countries – material incentives usually consist of higher prices for better-quality milk. But such incentives are not necessarily applicable in the Mauritanian

context. It was tried but later dropped for several reasons:

The base price of milk was already so high that any increase could only be a small percentage of the price, so not worth the effort.

The herd owners do not pass on the bonus to their employees who milk the animals by hand – so they have no incentive to improve hygiene.

In practice, the incentive goes mainly to larger suppliers for a variety of practical reasons.

For example, lab tests to check the milk quality are costly, but they are impossible to apply to 1 000 producers who each supply tiny amounts.

No amount of persuasion can make delivery vehicles arrive early: herders take their time milking, and the vehicle owners also run many other errands for their customers, so they arrive as late as possible.

As a result, a sort of passive control system has proven effective and feasible: the milk is tasted and rejected if it is unsatisfactory. Tiviski staff are trained to detect acidity or watering in milk, and to tell the difference between camel, cow and goat milk. Problems can arise if competitors do not have such controls, but in the long run producers accept the correlation between proper milking procedures and milk acceptability.

Milk should be cooled as soon as possible after milking to maintain quality. The gates of the collecting centres are locked at 10:00 or 10:15 each morning and evening. But unfortunately all the vehicles arrive at the same time, in the last 10 minutes. That means a considerable wait before the milk can be cooled, but no amount of arguing or planning has yet convinced the drivers to space their arrivals so that every vehicle can be unloaded quickly.

Clean milk cans are also vital. Tiviski imports aluminium alloy milk cans from India and sells them at cost price, on credit, to the herders. The cans are scrubbed and disinfected by Tiviski staff at the collecting centres.

On the whole, milk quality is remarkably good compared to other similar settings, to the extent that it can be treated in an UHT plant, against all “expert” statements that this cannot be done with African milk.

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But Tiviski’s efforts to get the herders organized have met with little success. The main reason for this failure seems to be their pastoral, mobile lifestyle, which makes it extremely difficult for them to organize. “Mauritanians can only organize against someone,” says one herder. Each time an organization was set up, it first concentrated the herders’ frustrations against Tiviski – not for consistent or specific motives such as milk price, but essentially because Tiviski is their only interface with the outside world. Time will show herders that things can be done more profitably together.

One example of a positive trend appeared in the milk collection system. Most of the collection vehicles belong to private operators (some are themselves milk suppliers who also pick up the milk of relatives). The producers pay the vehicle owner at the end of the month. In several cases, Tiviski had to rent vehicles to collect milk from areas where transport was either not profitable or complicated because many unrelated smallholders were scattered over long distances. The dairy charged these suppliers for this service on a quantity/distance basis. Gradually, the suppliers involved were prompted first to choose a cheaper vehicle, then to rent it themselves, and finally to buy their own vehicle as a group.

This type of process will eventually lead to practical organizations that are able to improve the herders’ efficiency.

Pastoralist herders live and think on a day-to-day basis, and do not make financial calculations on an annual basis. Although for roughly half of the year they have practically no expenses, when they have to buy fodder in the remaining 6 months they compare their daily income and expenditure, and complain loudly. They do not calculate the returns from the herd growth rate, or the different values of a healthy cow or camel compared to a skinny one – or a dead one. They have a wealth of ancestral knowledge, but much of this no longer applies now since they shifted from being nomadic to semi-nomadic.


Although on a global scale Tiviski is a very small dairy, it has established itself as the undisputed leader in the local market and has gained the confidence of consumers, mainly thanks to its consistent focus on quality.

Jobs. Tiviski now has some 230 staff (all local), who work in two shifts. It has directly and indirectly created about 3 000 jobs for livestock owners, their employees, milk transporters, fodder suppliers and so on – a significant number in a country of only 3  million people. The livestock are fed with agricultural by-products, helping to develop farming.

Local economy. In the milk-producing areas, suppliers use their milk-delivery slips to pay for goods at local shops. The milk vouchers are almost used as a local currency: at the end of the month, many shop keepers or fodder suppliers bring in milk vouchers to convert to cash.

Producers. Over the years, the producers have increased their herd sizes, and fewer animals fall ill or die. The herders now have a regular monetary income (without having to sell stock), which they use to feed and look after their herds, and to improve their standard of living. The livestock are safeguarded against drought: in the dry season, the producers supply more milk to the dairy so they can buy fodder; in tough years, the revenue from milk feeds the whole herd, not only the females and calves.

Adding value to livestock diversity Consumers. Fresh milk is good for city-dwellers: pasteurized milk has fewer germs than raw milk and more vitamins than imported sterilized milk.

Foreign exchange. Producing milk locally instead of importing it saves foreign currency at a national level.

International recognition. Tiviski has become known throughout the world for its work in developing a local dairy and promoting camel milk. In 1993, Tiviski’s founder Nancy Abeiderrahmane received a prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise in recognition of her work.


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The golden Udder: Marketing milk from camels in Puntland, Somalia Michele Nori WIIL IYO CAANO!

“Sons and milk” are what Somalis wish someone they have not seen for some time. And when parting for a long period, they wish each other “nabad iyo caano”, or “peace and milk”.

Milk is important in Somali culture. Much comes from dromedaries, of which Somalia has more than 6 million – almost half the world’s total. They are raised almost exclusively for their milk, and camel milk is staple food for much of the country’s human population.

Like in some other areas of the Horn of Africa, buying and selling camel milk used to be taboo: Somali families drank the milk from their own camels, or gave it to friends and relatives. But the growth of cities has created a strong demand for milk among urban residents who have no camels of their own. In Puntland in northeastern Somalia, an elaborate system of trading the milk has emerged since the early 1990s. An interesting feature of this system is that milk and its marketing are managed mainly by women, even though men own the camels and are responsible for managing, milking and selling them.

The information in this chapter is drawn largely from a food security programme run by UNA (a consortium of Italian NGOs) and the Milking Drylands research initiative, both funded by the European Commission and implemented in 2001–7.


Pastoralism is the traditional backbone of the Somali economy. About 70% of the population are pastoralists, with camel herding prevalent in the north, cattle more common in the south, and large herds of sheep and goats all over the country.

Camels are ideal milk producers in the drylands of Puntland. They can go without water for long periods. They browse in loose groups, moving slowly through an area to feed on grasses and tree leaves. The browse is sparse, forcing the herd to be continually on the move.

Even in very dry conditions, camels produce milk continuously for 18 months before production drops. Fresh camel milk keeps better in hot weather than milk from other animals. Without refrigeration, it becomes slightly sour (forming a product known as suusaac) or very sour (karuur). For home use, this fermented milk is kept in traditional containers, which are smoked to reduce the number of bacteria.

According to one UNA survey, the average camel herd in Puntland has some 72 animals.

Overall milk production depends on various factors. The main one is the number of animals Adding value to livestock diversity

–  –  –

in milk: about a quarter are lactating at any one time, though this number can be much lower if a drought prevents females from getting pregnant. Or it can be higher: in 2006, when herds were recovering after a drought, about 60% of the animals were in milk. It takes at least 2 years for production to recover after a lengthy drought. Other important factors are the season, access to pasture, the condition of the pasture, the stage of lactation, the calving rate and the health of the mother and calf.

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