Dairy farmers protest

MASERU — Dairy farmers have stopped selling milk to the Lesotho Dairy Products (LDP) company in protest over payment delays, the Lesotho Times has learnt.

Sources within the LDP told this paper that the number of farmers who are selling to the company has dramatically fallen over the past three months in various milk collection centres countrywide.

The LDP is the producer of Maluti Maid, bottled fresh and sour milk which is targeted at the bottom end of the market.

The company buys from the farmers on credit, processes milk and has it distributed around the country by a contracted company, Denmar Dairies.

A source within the dairy industry told the Lesotho Times that in May there were 35 farmers who were selling to LDP in Mafeteng.

But by last month, only eight dairy farmers were still selling their products to the company.

In Nazareth, the number of farmers still doing business with the LDP had slumped from 14 to three over the last three months.

“Those who are continuing to supply the LDP with milk are those who have too many cows and have no bigger market to supply,” said the farmer who asked not to be named.

Tšeliso Tšenoli, who is the president of the newly formed Maapara-kobo Dairy Farmers Association, confirmed that some farmers had stopped selling milk to the LDP.

Tšenoli told this paper that at the last National Dairy Farmers Forum meeting many associations from around the country reported that their members had stopped selling milk to the LDP.

“This is because dairy farmers have been denied access and ownership of the value chain,” Tšenoli said.

“Dairy farmers are still locked in the subsistence sector while Denmar Dairies plays out along the entire value chain,” he said.

“We have been reduced to the status of Denmar’s herd boys. Denmar makes money while farmers tend and milk the cows for its benefit.”

Efforts to contact the LDP and Denmar Dairies were not successful yesterday.

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