Why milk is big business in Africa

Where does Africa's milk come from?
spc africa view milk_00001815


    Where does Africa's milk come from?


Where does Africa's milk come from? 00:54

Story highlights

  • Africa has 13.4 million dairy farms
  • South Africa averages 357 cows per herd, significantly more than the continental average of 10

(CNN)South Africa's Western Cape is renowned for its wines and liquors. But for the country's Eastern Cape there's another drink at the top of the agenda -- milk.

In the past decade the region has doubled its production output. One of the biggest milk producers in Africa, the nation as a whole has an average of 357 cows per herd -- to put this figure in context, only 13 countries globally can boast an average of 100 or more.
Kenya, Sudan and Egypt also rank among the top milk-producing countries on the continent, all contributing significantly to Africa's 13.4 million dairy farms.
    But despite the impression of mass industrial-scale farming, the average cattle herd is only 10 cows strong. From the nomadic Maasai in Kenya to the Bodi tribe in Ethiopia, small-scale herding is still a way of life for some. The cow is integral: the key to daily sustenance, and for the Bodi, glory.
    But cows are far from the only source of milk.
    Alternative dairy products such as camel milk are also big business -- and becoming an increasingly exportable commodity. It's claimed to have three times as much vitamin C as cow's milk and 50% less fat, so it's good for you too.
    Along with cows and camels, goats and sheep contribute to a rich and diverse dairy industry. But it's perhaps what milk is used for that is broader still.
    Scroll through the gallery below to find out what weird and wonderful things dairy is being used for throughout the continent.