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LNDB to regulate dairy industry

Bataung Moeketsi

THE Lesotho National Dairy Board (LNDB) will soon start regulating the operations of dairy farmers and manufacturers of dairy products after coming up with code of practice on Friday.

The code was developed during a three-day workshop held by LNDB with different stakeholders to provide compliance guidelines that ensure the best quality and safety of dairy products through hygienic practices. It also looks into the conditions of the environment and structures where products will be produced.

Since last September, the LNDB has engaged with representatives from governmental and non-governmental institutions to improve the industry. Among the different stakeholders are the ministries of Health and that of Agriculture; the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the National Health Training College (NHTC). They have also worked with the Lesotho Dairy Farmers Association, the Lesotho Dairy Products (PTY) Ltd, the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Consumers Protection Association (CPA).

They started off by studying the guidelines followed by other countries and the International Food Standards (IFS) as well as the Codex Procedure Manuals’ Relations between Commodity and General Committees.

LNDB was established under Legal Notice No. 246 of 1991 and is mandated to develop, promote and regulate the country’s dairy industry.

LNDB chief executive officer Abiel Mashale said the board’s objective was to “balance the promotion of consumption of locally produced milk and other dairy products with public health protection” and this document would ensure that milk producers and processors play their role.

Mr Mashale said the code initially had three components but they collectively decided add a fourth component dealing with the practice of milk collection centres and processors.

“The first component is the structural and machine maintenance of the farm, Mr Mashale said.

“Then there is the hygienic aspect of the environment as a whole, the dairy farm and the milking parlour. We then dealt with animal health and monitoring the use of medication on animals to protect the lives of people.

“As much as we thought that later on, we would deal with the code of practice for milk collection centres and the processors, we thought it was important to include it in this document.”

The stakeholders are now expected to travel around the country seeking the input of all farmers before they start implementing the code in the second quarter of the year.

Mr Mashale said there were also plans to test milk at various cow corrals and collection centres to improve where standards are poor.

He said without standardisation of locally manufactured products, they would continue struggling to compete with imports as a result of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. Local manufactures control just 20 percent of the market share of the dairy industry.

Small scale farmer Kebitsamang Mothibe hailed the workshop and said it allowed farmers to interact with policy-makers and gain additional knowledge for their businesses.

The habit of injecting cows monthly with antibiotics is a trait many Basotho farmers are said to practice which may lead to both the animals and humans, as they consume dairy and meat, becoming resistant.

CPA representative Nkareng Letsie said the code would give consumers assurance of good quality local products and help boost the economy.

“Basotho consume dairy products and for us to grow Lesotho’s economy, it is in our best interest to know the required standards to compete in the industry,” Mr Letsie said.

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