The construction of the long awaited MilkAfric dairy farm project is expected to be complete by the second half of 2018.
Once fully operational the farm will produce a total of 21.9 million litres or one third of the national milk demand, which is 65 million litres a year. Currently Botswana imports 58.8 million litres from South Africa at a cost of P345 million.
The P120 million project has been reconfigured into a Public Private Partnership deal between Lobatse Town Council (LTC), which owns 10 percent shareholding though leasing its 1375.4 ha farm for 25 years; and 26 percent (P40 million) by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
The rest (64 percent) is held by the strategic investor, MilkAfric.
BDC Managing Director, Bashi Gaetsaloe said the project was very easy to fund. “This was the easiest project for us to fund because it has all the requirements we are looking for. It is commercially viable, competitive and innovative. As a country we have to look for projects which are profitable,” said Gaetsaloe.
He said enterprise resilience is one of the critical factors that are required in projects. “The company has partners with high technology companies so we are convinced and we never thought twice about funding this project,” said Gaetsaloe.
The dairy farm is anticipated to be one of the best dairy technologies in the world. Managing Director of the construction company, Shovel Project, Koobus Du Plesis said they considered some of the best designs suitable for the farm location and are currently working with the German company to construct the facility.
“We looked at several countries including SriLanka, Swaziland, South Africa and we have come up with the best design compared to all these dairy farms existing in other countries,” he said.
The facility can accommodate 2000 cows per day, which will be milked in three hour intervals. The project is expected to create 250 jobs in its first two-and-half years.
MilkAfric Board Chairman, Oabona Kgengwenyane explained that starting the project was not easy as they had to go through so many challenges.
“It has not been easy for us to carry on this project. It was a nightmare as we had to conduct the environmental impact assessment for five times at the tune of P250 000 each,” said Kgengwenyane.
Former Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe said entrepreneurship always has challenges but that entrepreneur needs perseverance to be successful. “I celebrate the determination of the MilkAfric team.
They had to pass through hurdles and they emerged victorious. Perseverance is a critical element to an entrepreneur,” said Kedikilwe.
He said the project is a huge opportunity for Batswana to benchmark and venture into businesses as the dairy market in Botswana does not have many players.
Currently there are approximately 3 700 dairy cattle in the country comprising 940 milking cows, 830 dry cows while the remaining 1 930 are young animals