SOUTH AFRICA – In a step towards boosting the development goals of South Africa’s dairy industry, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), a subsidiary of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), has signed an executive deal with Milk South Africa (Milk SA), a leading industry body.

This alliance seeks to address industry challenges and enhance the competitiveness of the South African dairy sector.

As part of this collaboration, Milk SA will serve as an implementing partner for the current Dairy Genomics Programme.

“This historic moment of the signature of a memorandum of understanding between TIA and Milk SA has also ensured a meeting of minds regarding further support to the transformation agenda of Milk SA and TIA,” Dr Vuyisile Phehane, TIA’s bioeconomy executive, said.

“As we pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion. We envisage a dairy industry in which the participation of women is commonplace, and in which all opportunities within the value chain are opened for participation.”

Dr. Heinz Meissner, Milk SA’s research program manager, stressed the significance of technology development and innovation in a competitive environment with narrow profit margins.

He anticipated that the collaboration would create new opportunities for innovation while ensuring industry sustainability.

He emphasized that the public-private partnership serves as a prime example of an initiative that contributes to economic growth and promotes a competitive dairy industry, ultimately leading to an improved quality of life for South Africans.

“The cluster model aligns with DSI’s Decadal Plan and the implementation of the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology, and Innovation, providing a roadmap for rescuing industries in decline and realizing the goals outlined in the Agricultural and Agroprocessing Masterplan,” he highlighted.

“This collaboration aims to invigorate the South African dairy sector, ensuring it remains at the forefront of the global dairy industry.”

Despite being renowned for having one of the world’s most efficient and competitive dairy industries, South Africa has traditionally received limited government support compared to its international trade competitors.

While the number of milk farms and dairy product processors continues to decline, the nation continues to provide high-quality unprocessed milk and dairy products to consumers.

Milk SA, representing the Milk Producers’ Organisation and the South African Milk Processors’ Organisation, can fund various projects related to skills development, research and development, consumer education, quality and safety improvement, and the empowerment of black dairy entrepreneurs.

Milk SA’s strategic focus revolves around improving the competitiveness of the South African dairy industry, expanding the market for local dairy products, and promoting the involvement of black entrepreneurs within the industry.

In parallel, TIA’s cluster model aims to stimulate activities and interventions that address systemic weaknesses hindering commercialization and innovation in the industry.