With the African Centre of the Stockholm Environment Institute, We are compiling examples of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices, summarised below. The following can be adopted and scaled up by different farmers along the dairy value chain.
Forage/grass production: Forage preparation involves the fermentation of grasses mixed with molasses under anaerobic conditions. As a result, fodder is available continuously, of high quality and with sufficient nutrients. Another SCP, feed formulation, varies according to animal type, forage and region. Still, dairy farmers can mix different feed ratios to ensure that animals get all the proper nutrients in the right amounts and are not over or underfed. This SCP can help solve the feeding problems and low milk production that smallholder farmers currently face.
Animal breeding and health: Inbreeding, artificial insemination can be used. This SCP involves introducing live sperm into the cow's reproductive tract to speed up the reproductive process. Another SCP activity is embryo transfer. By transferring the embryos of genetically superior animals to the ewes to complete the gestation period, poor quality livestock can produce high-quality livestock. In terms of health, dairy cattle tracking monitors attached to livestock allow farmers to record different aspects of their animals and identify any abnormalities or behaviour. Automated milk hygiene is another SCP, with machines carrying out the milking process, ensuring good milk hygiene, protecting the animal's udder and making it more time-efficient.
Processing and adding value to milk: Cheese, ghee, fermented milk, yoghurt ice cream and pasteurised milk are some of the products that farmers can produce on a small or large scale and, unlike unprocessed milk, are sold at a premium. However, depending on the development and scale, investment in equipment and processing agents is required.
Waste management, conservation and recovery of resources: As an SCP, the production of biogas and organic fertiliser from animal waste and feed residues can prevent the spread of infectious diseases, reduce the production of methane and provide a source of fertiliser for agriculture, thus reducing the use of synthetic fertilisers. The biogas produced is a source of energy for cooking and water heating. Farmers can minimise water wastage and pollution using automatic waterers, which support sustainable water use as water is exposed and flows as required.
Use of renewable energy: Renewable energy technologies can replace fossil fuels in the dairy value chain, such as water heaters and lighting, briquette boilers and biogas appliances. All of these contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the dairy sub-sector.
Dairy marketing and certification: Automatic milk machines enable consumers to buy what they can afford, reduce environmental pollution from packaging waste by eliminating packaging, and lower costs because packaging costs do not have to be included in the final price. Furthermore, vending machines eliminate the middleman, allowing farmers to earn higher profits. As an SCP practice, social marketing is also being used to build farmers' capacity on a range of dairy-related issues and promote access to credit schemes to advance their dairy business.
This shows that, like the circular economy and the sharing economy that we have written about before, SCP can make your business more efficient and profitable, rather than being a burden on your business. There's no harm in seeing SCP as part of your business.