In Lome, we find this milk generally packed in recycled plastic bottles

Popular in the Sahelian countries, consumers in Togo are becoming familiar to the consumption of raw cow's milk. But, is this business done in the right hygienic conditions ?

"For example, if the animal was sick, there are diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, colibacillosis that can easily be pricked in the milk", warns Dieudonne Kabkia, a veterinarian and teacher at the Inter-State School of Veterinary Sciences and Medecine of Dakar (EISMV).

To avoid a real public health problem, there is a call for milk brought to the market to be strictly controlled by veterinary services in order to ensure good quality.

"Raw milk is the milk drawn from the teats of the cow and usually chilled to 4° C. Pasteurized milk is a milk that is heated between 63° (low pasteurization) and 95° (high pasteurization) then immediately cooled down to a maximum of 6° C. The softer and slower the pasteurization is (the case of the low pasteurization), the lactic flora is maintained, and in reality it disappears in high pasteurization, fresh and the shelf life varies between 7 and 14 days.The sterilized milk called UHT (high temperature or ultra-high temperature) is heated between 135° and 170° by injecting steam for 2 to 5 seconds then cooled just as quickly, it is completely distorted and loses its taste", explains the lecturer.

Peuhls have the monopoly of the market

From production to consumption through marketing, Peuhls have almost the monopoly on the local market. Every morning, from 6:30, N'Deduma and Boube take out their cows to nurse newborns (calves).

Long before letting these newborns approach their mother, they press by themselves, the udders to recover with a container of milk that they resell either wholesale or in detail.

"It is for us, a source of income, and for the new mothers, we tie the feet before we pull the breasts to get the milk out. People come to buy either for resale, or to make yogurt or wagach (cheese) or to consume directly. The liter is 500fr", Boube told agridigitale.

In Lome, to find this milk generally packed in recycled plastic bottles, you have to go to boulevard du 13 Janvier, in the old district zongo where the market is almost  animated every day.

"If we recover at the same time on the cow we can drink directly without problem, but we warm it up to keep for a long time because when you milk it begins to ferment 4 hours later. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the quantity that I manage to sell each day but I admit that the market is there", says Sahadou, a reseller who buys in Togo and Ghana.

"If you warm up to kill germs and you don't keep in temperatures that will prevent the reproduction of microbes, that means when some microbes escape, you give them the chance to reproduce", says Kwoami Dovi, sanitary engineer and environment, Chief Division of Control and Sanitary Inspection at the Ministry of Health.

"When for example the animal has inflammation of the breasts, mastitis, pressing the milk, it can contaminate this milk.The secondary contamination comes from the hands of these Fulani. So, when the milk is not pasteurized, to eliminate microbes, fresh milk like that could be a danger for consumers, which means that in order for us to consume good quality milk, we must first support the Peuhls at the origin so as not to squeeze the milk on the cows that have mastitis. The materials they use and the way they do it, we must also pay attention to that", adds Mr. Dovi.

The three approaches to put in place

For this activity to be a real source of income in Togo, Dr. Kabkia proposes a three levels' value chain approach. 

First, the production. African cows are generally not very productive. They can produce just 4 litres while others produce 25 litres. For that, he proposes to go towards the genetic improvement either by the artificial insemination of the existing cows or by imports of the males.

Secondly, he suggested supervising production and asking animal health and animal husbandry professionals to follow the herds of cows with a view to ensuring that milk is of good quality.

Tertio, the marketing. Now that we have milk produced, we must move towards a good milk conservation and especially an awareness campaign for the public that is quite accustomed to milk powder.

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