Welcome to the World Jersey Cattle Bureau
WJCB REPORT FOR THE AFRICA REGION
JOHANNES VAN EEDEN VICE-PRESIDENT
Dairy farming worldwide has been under pressure and especially pedigree breeders had numerous constrains, but never the less Jersey number keep on growing. In Africa we have seen an unprecedented growth on the demand for Jerseys and its products and this is also the biggest reason for the breed constantly crossing borders into new areas of the continent.
Since attending my first WJCB activity in 1986 and getting actively involved in its programs, I have seen the Jersey grow from about 3 or 4 countries to just about every country in Africa. The single biggest challenge is to get the necessary genetics in an affordable way to the markets and to keep providing these markets with superior genetics in the form of affordable proven semen.
South Africa has by far the biggest Jersey population in Africa with approximately 237 active breeders and 67 000 registered cows. Apart from the registered cattle, there are a very large commercial Jersey herd in South Africa and during the last year more than 360 000 straws of Jersey semen were used in the country. Cows were exported over the last year to Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi and over the previous number of years we have seen large numbers of Jerseys exported to Ruanda, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Angola and Nigeria. There are numerous dairy companies who buy and market Jersey specific products and most dairy companies are prepared to pay more for Jersey milk. Jersey SA is actively involved in promoting the breed with numerous activities like herd inspections and on farm challenges and Jersey shows all over the country.
Central and East Africa
Kenya has a well-established and old Jersey population. Although registered Jersey herds are limited to a few of the stall ward herds like Romi Grammaticas, Carrol Rees, Mini Patel, Joe and Janet Mills and some smaller herds, the demand for Jerseys exceeds the supply by far. The two yearly Livestock Breeders Show is of extremely high standard and Jerseys are well represented and regularly win all the interbreed classes – a very good advertisement for the breed! Jersey does get exported to neighbouring countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, but once again demand exceeds supply.
Ruanda, Tanzania and Uganda are other central African countries where the Jersey and its products are in big demand and where organizations like Heifer International are actively promoting the Jersey as the cow of choice. Ruanda is now a well-established Jersey country and where Heifer International, Jersey Island and the Ruanda government have done an excellent project in establishing the Jersey and develop a market for its products. In Uganda as well as Tanzania the breed is growing steadily and breeding material is the only constraint on faster growth.
Over the last 10 + years we have seen a steady increase in Jersey numbers in the Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia region of southern Africa. Zambia under the leadership of Dai Harvey has set an example of how successful programs should be planned, implemented and administrated. Jerseys and Jersey crosses is the cow of choice amongst up and coming breeders and with the help of programs like Land o Lakes the breed are growing at a tremendous speed. The growth was mainly due to regular imports from South Africa, as well as a well-planned crossbreeding program with the local cattle breeds like the Boran. The well-established Land o Lakes program has grown and expanded to now also include Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, where once again animals were imported from neighbouring South Africa.
As well as these above mentioned Jersey growth areas in central and southern Africa, we are also aware of Jersey exports to countries as far afield as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Angola and Congo. These are all examples of the breeds demand and adaptability in in very harsh conditions. It is my feeling that we should not only provide these countries with the required genetics, but also follow up and continue to give them the necessary support to ensure that the breed get well established in the far flung areas of Africa.
I have been involved with the WJCB since the 1986 conference held in South Africa and again in 1989 in NZ and has represented Jersey SA at every WJCB council meeting since 1992. I was elected as Second Vice-president of the WJCB in 1997 and as President in 2002 and re-elected in 2005. In 2008 I was again elected Vice-president for the Africa region. This last 28 years gave me the opportunity to see and experience the Jersey cow and Jersey breeders in 66 countries of the world, I have made some wonderful friends and the Jersey cow and its people has played a fantastic part in my life. I would like to thank each and every one in the breed that I met and had the opportunity to work with for the wonderful years of Jersey friendship.
Vice-president of the WJCB for Africa