Omaheke Making Steady Progress Towards Dairy

Steady progress is being made in finalising sites in the Omaheke region to host a planned dairy processing and packaging plant and turn the region, renowned for its beef production, into a milk producing hub.

This follows after the Omaheke Regional Council and various partners recently completed ground-braking discussions for such a facility with delegates from the National Dairy Development Board of India. The settlements of Otjinene and Tshaka have been identified as feasible locations for the dairy plant, and land has already been availed at these two sites for the project. Otjinene is located 160 kilometres north of Gobabis, while Tshaka is 50 kliometres south of the regional economic centre. An aisory committee which will guide and aise on the progress and the logistics was formed in 2012 after a concept proposal for the dairy hub was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

A feasibility study and the finalisation of a business plan are the next steps in an effort to bring the large-scale development to the Omaheke region.The team of experts in the dairy industry from India was in the country last year and expressed satisfaction with the developments made with regard to the project. They promised to assist in any regard in ensuring the project becomes a reality.

Pio Nganate, chairperson of the interim steering committee and special aisor to Omaheke Governor, Festus Uuitele, yesterday told New Era that they are considering producing cultured milk (omaere), yoghurt, cheese and cream at the dairy. “We are open to business proposals for any by-product of milk so as to allow the factory to have a greater impact on the communities, as opposed to only packaging milk. Milk producers and other farmers are excited about the idea of diversifying, especially after the horrible drought of last year, which resulted in Omaheke farmers selling their cattle in droves to Angolan buyers. The proposed dairy processing and packaging plant is all the more reason to stop the exodus of Omaheke cattle and diversify by switching to dairy farming,” he says.

Former Omaheke Governor, Laura McLeod-Katjirua, accompanied by farmers and dairy experts, travelled to India in 2012 to familiarise themselves with dairy production in that country at the invitation of that country’s National Dairy Development Board. This was followed by a visit by Indian experts last year and now it is a question of time before the engines start up for the milking hub, Nganate says. “It is now up to us on the ground to work close together with the MAWF and various NGOs(Non-governmental Organisations) to make this dream come true. We have the assurance from the feasibility studies done in cooperating with the Indian experts that the plant is viable and sustainable,” he concludes.

Omaheke, which is a hub of cattle farming, was considered ideal for hosting such a venture. With more than 600 000 head of cattle and with 60% of the inhabitants involved in cattle farming, the region is well placed for the establishment of a dairy project.The project is expected to cost more than N$6 million during its initial stages.

Source : New Era