In Conversation with Marco Streng | NEADAP Dairy Network Advisor

Marco Streng joined the Netherlands East Africa Dairy Partnership (NEADAP) Network as a Dairy Network Advisor in February this year. Based out of Nairobi, Marco sat down with us to discuss some of the interesting initiatives he’s already started working on and will continue to drive forward in the months and years ahead .

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Who is Marco Streng?

Marco was born and raised in Boskoop, a small town in The Netherlands. He graduated from Erasmus University with a major in Business and grew up in an agricultural environment. His father had a tree nursery and his grandfather owned an agri contracting business.

For the past four years he has been the country representative for Agriterra in Ethiopia, where he worked with a team of national business advisors on the implementation of a cooperative development programme.

Why did you move to Kenya?

“I moved to Nairobi to coordinate NEADAP. Kenya is the number one dairy producing country in East Africa so it is logical to be here. NEADAP offers a platform for exchange of knowledge and experience to solve current challenges and leverage further development in East African dairy. Aside from that, the move to Nairobi is also interesting for me personally, as I am curious about new environments and cultures. After spending several years in Addis a change of scenery was welcome.

During the past three months I have been linking up with dairy stakeholders in East Africa. This includes a visit to Nundoroto/Bles Dairies East Africa, an agricultural contracting organisation in Kenya, offering agri contracting services to dairy farmers, from grassland preparation to harvesting, especially chopping maize for silage”

How do you see the collaboration with NFP? What is the added value to you?

The collaboration is twofold for Marco. “On the one hand, NEADAP has a strong implementation focus on promoting practical knowledge and skills in the East-African dairy sector. It is important to also have a strong network and presence in the Netherlands. So, for me, based in Nairobi, the added value of NFP is to provide us with connections to the Dutch government, its policies and an awareness of each other’s activities in order to ensure these are aligned.

What are the key issues in East African Dairy?

In the Netherlands and Europe, the policy focus is on protein transition, meaning diets with less meat and less dairy and more plant proteins. In East Africa the policy goals are focusing on nutrition and employment, dairy plays an important role in these areas. Also, the nitrogen situation is less of a problem in Africa compared to Europe because of land sizes and different types of livestock systems.

There are many differences between East Africa and the Netherlands related to dairy, Marco explains. "For instance, the Netherlands produce the same amount of milk per year as the whole of East Africa combined. But East Africa is more than 60 times bigger, with many consumers who simply do not eat enough animal protein. Also, the average African farmer has one to five dairy animals. These animals not only provide for food, they also serve as a kind of insurance/savings in case things unexpectedly go wrong. In East Africa, women do most of the production work in the dairy industry. They are also important consumers, as women take care of their children and want to provide healthy diets with dairy proteins for them.

Despite all the differences, we can still support each other to improve animal feeding and increase production. Better feeding improves income and could reduce the methane emissions per kg of milk and the carbon footprint in the long run.

In the six focus countries of NEADAP there is good cooperation between Dutch and local experts and their organisations. An example of this is the issue of milk quality. NEADAP partners in Kenya and Uganda have run pilot projects with a milk payment system based on quality grades. A farmer producing first grade milk gets the base price with a bonus. The pilots are showing that a lot of farmer training and trust building is needed to get this organised. NEADAP is set to promote such innovation via local partnerships. Our role is to create an overview for partners and coordinate the flow of knowledge. The aim is that partners learn from each other instead of reinventing the wheel.

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