“You can make a difference in Africa”

3 October 2016

Henri BisschopIn 2015, Henri Bisschop, Director Corporate Key Accounts at FrieslandCampina, went to Kenya for the fifth time to visit dairy cooperative Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy. “The dairy cooperative in Kenya which I, together with other colleagues, have supported, started from practically nothing and has now a fully operational production plant.”

In 2015, Henri Bisschop went to Kenya for the fifth time to visit dairy cooperative Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy. Henry is Director Corporate Key Accounts for FrieslandCampina. “The dairy cooperative in Kenya which I, together with other colleagues, supported, started from practically nothing and has now a fully operational production plant.” Henry’s assignment is part of the Dairy Development Programme  in which FrieslandCampina shares its knowledge and expertise of dairy farming and dairy with farmers in Asia and Africa. “I love visiting Kenya. Sometimes I return home completely exhausted because these are exciting weeks, but at the same time it also gives me a lot of energy. I know I can really make a contribution.”

Partnership Agriterra

“FrieslandCampina is associated with Agriterra, an organisation supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Agriterra sends colleagues to countries in Africa and Asia to make a contribution to the development of the agricultural sector. I worked in Nigeria for 4 years about 20 years ago. At that time we were already fully engaged in the development of dairy farming and the dairy industry. My wife and I had such a great time there. At the beginning of 2000, we returned to the Netherlands and I started working for Friesland Foods (nowadays FrieslandCampina).”

Professionalisation process

“In 2012, I went to Kenya for more than a week through Agriterra. This was a so-called ‘scoping’ mission. I was asked to find out whether there are cooperatives (for it being a cooperative is a precondition) with whom Agriterra can collaborate and contribute to their long term development. I visited 6 cooperatives and one of those clearly met the criteria. In the years following, I went to Kenya several times again, for example to set up a marketing plan or an investment plan. In 2012 Wakulima Dairy was a cooperative that only collected milk from its members and resell it as raw milk in bulk. The cooperative did not have any facilities and it did not process the milk. Now there is a dairy plant which produces consumer products. Last year, even commercials were broadcast on television and recently a yoghurt line was put into operation in the newly built plant. During our most recent mission, we evaluated the plant design, looked at how the plant is running and how sales is developing.”

The importance of knowledge

“In Kenya, a dairy farmer can make a good living with five milk-producing cows if they are properly taken care of and fed. With these, a dairy farmer can maintain his family and send his children to school. Many good things are taking place in Africa, but there still is a lot to be done. There is a need for three things; education, education and education. We are definitely not smarter, but we just had the luck that here it is self-evident that we can go to school and study. Through the work of Agriterra and all the people contributing, knowledge is transferred to the people over there. Knowledge helps people forward. It is fantastic that FrieslandCampina offers employees the opportunity to make a contribution and to make a difference elsewhere, for example to farmers in Kenya.”