• Articles
  • Arla Dairy Development Newsletter, Issue 2, Q1 2024

Arla Dairy Development Newsletter, Issue 2, Q1 2024

Arla Dairy Development Newsletter, Issue 2, Q1 2024

Our future is good and green!

It is my pleasure to present to you the second edition of the Arla Local Dairy Development Newsletter. In this issue, we will focus primarily on our green initiatives here in Nigeria. I am excited to share the news of the construction of our new Solar Power Plant, which will be formally launched in April. Located in northern Nigeria, our farm is ideally positioned to harness solar energy, and our calculations indicate that we can generate a substantial amount of power. The Damau site, where our farm buildings are situated, is well-suited for this operation, as the large roofs alone have the potential to produce around 1.5 MW of energy from the sun! The commencement of the first phase of the power plant marks a significant milestone for us, as we strive to place an even greater emphasis on environment-ally friendly, “green” farming practices.

The past few months have been challenging for many in Nigeria, as the Naira's exchange rate has fluctuated rapidly against other currencies. This has resulted in price increases, putting pressure on both consumers and local businesses that rely on imported goods. Fortunately, we have our own dairy farm that enables us to produce milk on local terms. This means we are less reliant on the volatility of foreign exchange rates. It provides us with a competitive advantage and a stable foundation for our operations in the future. While our farm is still expanding, currently housing fewer than 100 milking cows, we anticipate reaching close to 200 cows in just a few months. Additionally, we have a strong group of heifers growing on the farm, which will further expand our operations. As our herd continues to grow, we gain more stability, which is key to our success. Therefore, we look forward to the future with optimism!

As Arla leads the way in the future development of the dairy industry in Nigeria, boasting one of the most advanced dairy farms in Africa, I am hopeful that our hard work and dedication will inspire other investors to follow in our footsteps. Together, we can build a robust local production sector and a thriving dairy industry that benefits all dairy farmers in Nigeria, regardless of the scale of their production.

Peder Pedersen MD, Arla Global Dairy Products Ltd.

Service agreement with TATA

In February, TATA International, the esteemed importer and service provider for the renowned agricultural brand John Deere, joined forces with Arla through the signing of a service agreement. This pivotal agreement ensures round-the-clock support from TATA for all tractors and machinery at our rapidly expanding dairy farm. The signing ceremony brought together Ms. Anna Månsson, Head of Arla West Africa, and Mr. Okoli Chijioke, Country Director for Agricultural & Construction Equipment Division at TATA International, symbolizing the collaboration between our two esteemed companies.

Solar Power Plant – Phase I

In December 2023, we signed an agreement with Daystar Power Solutions, a member of the Shell Group, for the construction of a Solar Power Plant at our Farm in Damau. Construction began in January 2024. This is for the first phase of the installation, which will be formally launched in April 2024.

Phase I of this solar panel installation caters to the current energy requirements, but we anticipate future expansions at the Arla Damau site. The availability of ample space on the cow barn roof and other buildings allows for a potential peak production capacity of approximately 1.5 MW.

Construction of a Solar Power Plant

  1. During construction, the roofs were carefully designed to ensure that they could support solar panels. Here, the first fixtures for the panels are in place.
  2. All the panels need to be carefully mounted on the roof, so they are placed on special profiles.
  3. Each panel has a capacity of 550W. In total, there are 455 panels that can together produce 250kW.
  4. As the roofs on the farm have windows for direct sunlight, these are guarded to protect from breaking.
  5. All the panels are then inter-connected and linked, by a big cable, to the inverter container.
  6. In this container all the DC-format energy, generated by the panels, is converted to AC before being connected to the electricity hub at the site.
  7. This is just the first phase of the project, as there will be an increased need for energy at the Arla Damau site in the future. It’s a good thing then, that we have a lot of space for solar panels, not only on the roof of the cow barn, as shown here, but also other buildings. In total, space for peak production of around 1,5 MW!


Empowering Farmers: From Milking to Learning

As part of Arla's commitment to backward integration in Nigeria, we have collaborated with other organizations in the local dairy sector to construct facilities that streamline operations and ease the work for farmers. These facilities include water boreholes to ensure a fresh water supply for animals and humans, as well as our Milk Collection Centers (MCCs).

Initially, the MCCs served as both milk delivery points and service centers for farmers. They featured small milking units where farmers could milk their cows and promptly deliver the milk. The local communities greatly appreciated these facilities. However, it soon became evident that the local farmers were more comfortable with hand-milking, and the nomadic nature of farmers and their herds made it challenging to maintain a fixed milking technology. Moreover, the local breed of cows in Nigeria, the White Fulani cows, have low milk yields, making automatic milking a difficult task.

Therefore, Arla decided to relocate the milking technology from the MCCs to the Arla farm in Damau. However, the four existing facilities had proven to be more than just milking centers. Farmers utilized them to host meetings and receive training, benefiting from the comfortable and dry environment they provided. Recognizing this, we engaged in discussions with the local farmers to determine how we could best serve them, even without the milking technology. These conversations led to a revised plan, transforming the construction from milking facilities to teaching facilities. The response has been remarkable! The facilities now serve as spaces for study, learning, and literacy programs for farmers and their families.

This experience highlights the importance of flexibility in project development and the need to adapt plans for the greater benefit of all stakeholders.

Today, we are delighted with the progress of our MCCs, even though their role has evolved to serve the local communities differently. We continue to collect milk, while the farmers now have access to excellent facilities. It's a WIN-WIN situation for everyone involved.







Best Bulls in Africa?

At the Arla farm, we exclusively use sexed semen from Viking Genetics, a renowned Nordic genetics company. This strategic choice ensures that the majority of calves born on our farm are heifers, with statistics indicating that bulls account for less than 10% of all births so far. Since the birth of our first calf in August 2023, we have had a total of 72 births, with only 5 bulls born. This translates to a current bull percentage of 6.9%. However, it's important to note that these initial results may be subject to bias due to the relatively small number of calves born on the farm thus far.

Regardless of the future development in the percentage of bull births, we do anticipate the arrival of bulls in the future. What makes these bulls truly exceptional is that they are likely among the finest on the entire African continent. This is attributed to our meticulous pre-selection process, which involves assessing both the genetic information and body condition of the heifers.

Furthermore, we exclusively utilize high-quality semen, contributing to the belief that the offspring possess superior quality and genetic strength. We are currently exploring the most effective ways to tap into the potential that these bulls offer.


Our Green Journey: Heifer Growth Rate is Important

At the Arla farm, one of our key green initiatives revolves around prioritizing animal welfare, productivity, and longevity. When measuring dairy farm emissions, the most common approach is to calculate the CO2 emissions associated with production and divide it by the milk yield from the respective farm.

This is why, at the Arla Farm, we place great emphasis on fast-tracking the maturation of our heifers, enabling them to begin production at a young age. Our target is for them to calve for the first time at 23 months, which means they need to grow rapidly, from the day they are born. To support this objective, our heifers receive ample amounts of milk from birth until weaning, typically around 8 weeks old. Additionally, they have access to a specialized calf growth concentrate. These measures ensure that they get off to a strong start on their journey towards becoming productive dairy cows, achieving a growth rate exceeding 800 grams per day.

To closely monitor their progress, the calves at the Arla Farm are regularly weighed. This allows us to ensure that their growth rate aligns with our desired plan and enables our dedicated employees to promptly address any deviations from the expected trajectory.


Our Green Journey: Optimize Field Usage

As part of Arla's green agenda for the farm in Nigeria, we place a strong focus on optimizing field utilization to ensure efficient and maximum land usage. Nigeria’s proximity to the equator provides favourable year-round temperatures for plant growth. However, the seasonal weather changes, particularly during the dry seasons, pose a challenge. To address this, we employ irrigation methods to meet the water needs of crops during the dry season.

Water availability can be a significant hurdle in many countries. Fortunately, the strategic location of the Arla farm in Damau, North-East Kaduna state, grants us access to a nearby river that consistently provides ample water supply. This reliable water source allows us to implement irrigation techniques, extending the growing season for our plants. To achieve this, we utilize a rain-gun system, which requires high water pressure and thus a lot of energy, for pumping. Thankfully, the presence of solar panels on the roofs of our cow barns ensures that we can power the water pump with green and sustainable energy.

By prioritizing field capacity and optimizing land use, our goal is to achieve 2.5 to 3 rotations of major crops from the irrigated fields.

To put this into perspective, while European dairy farmers typically obtain one corn silage harvest per hectare annually, the Arla farm in Nigeria can harvest the same corn fields for silage 2.5 to 3 times per year. This significantly reduces the land requirements, which is crucial considering the worldwide scarcity of agricultural land due to urbanization and the expansion of man-made structures.