I had the privilege recently to visit Kenya, Zimbabwe and Rwanda. One must spend quality time in the African region to appreciate the dynamism and engagement of the dairy value chain. I want to thank my colleagues for hosting me and providing me with the opportunity to meet with dairy leaders and government officials as well as key stakeholders.
My trip to East and South Africa surpassed all my expectations, and I must admit, I had high hopes to begin with. The experience was even more awe-inspiring than I had imagined. In Africa, dairy isn’t just a source of nutrition and means of livelihood; it’s a way of life that immerses you completely and a tool for social and economic growth. The people I met have high ambitions and clear action plans. They are committed, innovative and eager to learn and get inspired to move further quickly. They truly believe and live the substantial contribution of dairy to healthy diets and the UN sustainable development goals.
The first part of my mission was to Zimbabwe where I was graciously invited by the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) to meet with key stakeholders from the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT), a body that unites representatives from the entire dairy value chain. I also visited farms, a processing plant, stockfeeds and a milk collection center. Throughout my visit, I presented IDF and the benefits of full membership. They are clearly fully engaged and look forward to contributing to IDF’s work and community of experts. As I departed Zimbabwe, I carried with me a sense of positivity and optimism, firmly believing that they will rapidly emerge as dynamic IDF experts.
One of the primary reasons for my visit was to participate in the launch of the IDF Rwanda National Committee. Rwanda is the proud newest member of IDF. The event brought together 150 distinguished Rwandan experts from all levels of the value chain and government. I was proud to be joined for this special day by experts from IDF members: Mrs. Margaret Rugut Kibogy, the Managing Director of the Kenya Dairy Board, Mrs Paidamoyo Patience Chadoka, CEO of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers, Dr R.O. Gupta from the National Dairy Development Board India-NDDB and Mr. J. T. Chary, the CEO of the Shreeja Mahil Milk Producers Company of India (women owned dairy company). It was a true demonstration of the strength of IDF community. Their presentations were welcomed by the participants and real learning sharing occurred on technical elements such as productivity enhancement, women empowerment, school milk programs, and dairy’s contribution to the UN SDGs.
The second day of the event coincided with the celebration of World Milk Day, where I had the privilege of witnessing a heartwarming school milk program involving numerous enthusiastic children. It was an ideal opportunity for me to emphasize the importance of such programs in providing daily nutrition to children. I reaffirmed IDF’s continuous support for such initiatives through a dedicated Action Team and our School Milk Knowledge Hub.
In my concluding remarks to the two-day event, I emphasized how Rwanda’s engagement with IDF, both on a global and regional level—since—will undoubtedly benefit their endeavors. Rwanda stands to gain from the wealth of knowledge and networking opportunities that IDF offers, enabling them to learn, gain expertise, and accelerate their development goals. I particularly emphasized the alignment of these learning opportunities with the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Reflecting on IDF’s theme for this year’s World Milk Day, I urged them to take pride in their dairy industry and harness that pride to forge stronger connections within the IDF community, which eagerly awaits the opportunity to share their expertise. Rwanda has expressed its intention to organize the first IDF regional event in Africa in 2024.
As I mentioned at the outset, my visit to Africa surpassed all expectations. I encountered individuals who were truly passionate and dynamic—exceptional experts and leaders with unparalleled creativity and innovation. Their resolute commitment to develop their dairy sector left an indelible impression on me. I invite you to join any upcoming dairy events in this region to find out more. See more photos from the trip below.