A three-day event championing the role and impact of the Jersey Cow in Africa was hosted by the Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association in Blantyre, Malawi.
The event was attended by delegates from Jersey, along with guests from Zambia, Rwanda, Nepal and locals from Malawi amongst other countries.
The invited 54 guests who attended the three-day event in Malawi in person, enjoyed two days visiting smallholder farms and milk collection centres in the surrounding areas.
They spent two days (Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th June) meeting farmers and livestock technicians, visiting smallholder farmers and milk collection centres (Lilongwe Dairy Depot at Goliati and Blantyre Dairy in Blantyre), processing centres, and milk bulking groups (in Thyolo and Mulanje).
The third day (Wednesday 28th June) consisted of presentations and videos at a Conference, from a wide range of speakers covering the importance and impact of the Jersey cow in Africa. The final evening brought everyone together for an evening with traditional Malawian dances.
The event was organised by the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society (RJA&HS) for the African Jersey Forum. Deputy Carolyn Labey, Minister for International Development, attended the event, along with the RJA&HS President Rob Perchard, World Jersey Cattle Bureau President Stephen Le Feuvre and the Dean of Jersey Michael Keirle, who is Vice-Patron of the RJAHS and has long standing associations with Malawi.
As well as being held in person, the Conference was streamed live globally and there were more than 320 online attendances during the day. Audiences also gathered at the Royal Jersey Showground in Trinity, as well as in Kigali (Rwanda) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). These audiences, along with the guests in Malawi, brings the number of people who viewed the Conference to approximately 500 people in 18 different countries (10 of these being African countries).
The Jersey cow is the second most popular dairy breed globally
Videos from the Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association in Malawi and by Jersey SA (South Africa’s Jersey breed association) were shown, and eight expert speakers from around the globe gave presentations on a range of topics – all focusing on the Jersey cow and its role in improving dairying across Africa.
For some time, the second most popular dairy breed globally, found in over 100 countries, the Jersey cow is becoming an increasingly important asset to smallholder dairy systems across Africa, whether pure or as a crossbred dairy cow.
The concept of the African Jersey Forum was first launched during a regional dairy workshop, held in Rwanda in 2019, with the primary aim of bringing together stakeholders in Africa with an interest in the Jersey breed, helping them to network and share knowledge to develop the African dairy sector and harness the potential of the breed. 2021 saw a Conference occurring online only due to travel restrictions, so this year’s event is the first opportunity the Forum has had to gather internationally since 2019.
David Hambrook, Head of International Dairy for Development at the RJA&HS said: “We were thrilled to welcome so many expert speakers to the 2023 Conference. The main goal of the African Jersey Forum is to share knowledge and this is exactly why the event and Conferences are so important.
“It was great that people were able to travel to attend this year.” He added: “The RJA&HS are extremely grateful to Jersey Overseas Aid for supporting the African Jersey Forum, and the other Dairy for Development Projects that the RJA&HS manage in Rwanda, Malawi, Ethiopia and Zambia.”
The main picture shows smallholder farmer Egrey Mathengo, who is a member of the Chisutu Milk Bulking Group in Malawi. It is farmers like her, whom the RJA&HS and JOA projects support.