ETHIOPIA – In a bid to address the growing demand for dairy products in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has unveiled ambitious plans to produce 9.8 billion litres of milk in the upcoming fiscal year of 2023/24, sourced from cattle, camels, and goats.

The announcement was made by MoA’s Livestock and Fishery Resource Team Leader, Lema Gemeda, during a statement provided to the Ethiopia Press Agency.

Gemeda emphasized that the Ministry is committed to achieving this target, and they have initiated various strategies to overcome the challenges that have hindered higher milk production.

These strategies encompass improving cattle breeds, ensuring the availability of safe and nutritious fodder, enhancing marketing linkages, and increasing awareness among farmers regarding best practices in cattle feeding and fodder utilization.

While the volume of milk production in Ethiopia has seen an annual increase, it has still been insufficient to meet the surging demand from the population.

“Although the volume of milk production has increased as per annual consumption, it is hard to quench the demand coming from the society, and the nation could hardly meet the need,” Lema Gemeda said.

Supporting this notion, MoA’s Livestock and Fishery Resource Expert, Segni Chemeda, pointed out that the widening gap between milk production and demand can be attributed to several factors.

“These include the lack of hybrid cattle species, the absence of quality and safe fodder, and inadequate market linkages,” he highlighted.

“To address these issues, the government has been actively investing in the enhancement of cattle breeds, the provision of high-quality and safe cattle fodder, and creating awareness among the farming community.”

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), an individual should consume 200 litres of milk annually to maintain good health.

However, in Ethiopia, the average per capita consumption stands at just 66 litres per year, leaving a significant deficit of 140 litres compared to the WHO recommendation.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a comprehensive 4-year plan to boost the annual production of poultry and dairy products, aiming to make these products more affordable for every household.

As part of this plan, the Ministry set a target to increase milk production from 5.8 billion litres in 2021 to an impressive 10.3 billion litres per year within the next four years.

To achieve this goal, the government has implemented various measures, including providing inputs such as animal feed supply and veterinary services, as well as offering training to farmers, particularly smallholders who dominate the dairy production market.

According to the country’s Milk Industry Outlook for the years 2022 to 2026, Ethiopia is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s leading milk producers, with an estimated production of 3.9 million metric tons by 2026.

In 2021, Ethiopia ranked 34th globally, producing 3.7 million metric tons of milk, with countries like Bangladesh, the United States Virgin Islands, Pakistan, and Brazil leading the global list.