News - June 23, 2011

Dutch approach to farming in Tanzania

Who: Wim Mooijman, VHL student of Agribusiness and Business Administration
What: Internship at cattle breeding station
Where: Tanga, north-eastern Tanzania
Why: To help set up a second business with 300 cows and heifers

'A Dutchman once started a breeding station for cows in Tanzania. And because the people who bought the cows needed to be able to sell the milk, a milk factory was built too, which is now the largest in the country. And to complete the picture, a small financing company was set up. Local farmers buy a cow on credit. When they sell their milk to the factory, some of the profits go directly to the financing company so that the cow is paid for in stages.
The concept seems to be a great success. During my internship, I helped set up a second breeding station, which is intended for 300 cows and heifers. We helped design the milking shed, and taught people how to use the machines. At the same time we solved a lot of problems and kept the whole thing going.
At the existing breeding station there are 70 cows and 150 heifers. If a cow is in calf, she is sold to a local farmer. They then get a calf into the bargain and can milk the cow. In Tanzania a small family can live off the proceeds from two cows, even though the cows give far less milk than cows in the Netherlands. To raise production, Tanzanian cows are crossed with Dutch bulls. Production is increased like this through genetics. But it is certainly not the aim to breed Dutch milking cows, as they would not cope with the local climate or feed.
What surprises me most is the way of life in Tanzania. Their attitude is very different; they really live one day at a time. If they have to go somewhere by motorbike, they keep putting one euro's worth of petrol in it. We don't understand that, because it means you have to keep on stopping for petrol. But they think, 'Just imagine if we have an accident two kilometres down the road. Then we'll have wasted all that money on petrol.'