Despite a myriad of challenges faced by dairy farmers in the country, there is much to be optimistic about. Bertus van Heerden, chief economist at the Milk Producers Organisation (MPO), joins us on this episode of the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast to give us a bird’s eye view of dairy production in South Africa and his outlook for the industry.
Van Heerden explains that the MPO aspires to build a competitive and sustainable dairy business that adds value for dairy farmers and allows them to create value for themselves.
They aim to guarantee that farmers can compete at an international level and supply top quality unprocessed milk for the dairy product manufacturing industry.
In the podcast interview, Van Heerden discusses the situation of dairy business in South Africa. He says that, despite the many hurdles they face, he is optimistic about the industry.
The dairy industry is doing exceptionally well and produces enough milk to even export to other custom union countries. This makes South Africa’s dairy industry very sustainable, he adds.
“We are actually a net exporter of dairy products. If you look at our exports and add that to the sales to the other SADC country members like Lesotho, eSwatini, Namibia and Botswana … this puts us in the category [of being] self-sustainable,” he says.
He goes on to say that despite all the challenges faced in recent years, the value chain was able to provide dairy products daily to manufacturers and get the products on the shelves of local stores.
Even with challenges, there’s potential
However, van Heerden appreciates that the issues faced by dairy farmers in the country are not limited to the industry or agriculture, but are rather a national problem across all sectors.
“We are faced with a largely dysfunctional government; we have electricity problems and unreliable roads that increase costs,” he points out.
On the bright side, however, the population is expanding every day, indicating that, despite the difficulties, there is potential for higher demand in the future.
The best agriculture news podcast on the planet also features other highlights for the agricultural sector this week:
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- Book of the week: This week’s book is Farming While Black by Leah Penniman. The book is selected by you, our listeners.
- Farmer tip of the week: This week’s farmer tip comes from organic fertiliser specialist Thapelo Phiri
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