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Lactometers will change the cheater

In 2013 FrieslandCampina WAMCO (FCW – Nigeria) noticed an increase in milk adulteration during the periodic quality checks at its milk collection centers. Some producers were adding water to ‘bulk up’ their milk volumes. These lots were rejected, causing losses not only to the producers but also to FCW and the transporters who do not receive payments for rejected milk.

In 2014 2SCALE proposed a simple solution to combat adulteration: lactometers, small glass tubes that measure the density – and hence the purity – of milk. The pilot began with a 2-day training for 16 transporters and 4 Community Livestock Workers from two dairy clusters, Fashola and Alaga. Milk was then tested at two stages: at individual producer level by Community Livestock Workers, and after bulking, before being transported to the milk collection center by the transporter.

FCW and 2SCALE closely monitored the pilot with additional testing from August to October 2014. The number of rejections at the milk collection centers fell from 20 per day to zero. The percentage of total solids increased from 11% to 12%, reaching FCW targets.

Diary

The pilot worked for several reasons. In the first place, the milk producers are aware that adulteration can easily be detected and the responsible individual can be identified on the spot. Secondly, the pilot involved peer-to-peer control, creating social pressure that forces offenders to change their behavior. Thirdly, ‘serial offenders’ are quickly identified and their milk will be rejected systematically. The adulterating producer will thus be the one and only loser.

In 2015, FCW will roll out the control system to all four dairy clusters. Transporters and Community Livestock Workers have agreed to share the costs of buying additional lactometers since their business benefits directly from improved quality.

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