MPO hosts virtual media day

Dr Chris van Dijk, chief executive of the Milk Producers’ Organisation.

The Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) hosted its first ever virtual media day via Zoom webinar on 20 May. Dr Chris van Dijk, chief executive of the MPO, welcomed all attendees and Philip Swart, manager of MPO member services, stepped in as programme co-ordinator and explained the house rules for the virtual session.

MPO during COVID-19 lockdown

Dr Van Dijk presented a brief overview of MPO initiatives and activities happening over and above the normal day-to-day duties during the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown period. The MPO is sharing information with the National Milk Producers Federation, the International Dairy Federation, Dairy Australia, and Dairy New Zealand. Van Dijk also assured attendees that the dairy community remains committed to producing the safe, nutritious, and delicious products that consumers have come to expect.

As an essential service in terms of the lockdown regulations, the MPO forms part of the Minister of Agriculture’s task team and the Agri SA task team representing the voice of the dairy industry, overseeing permits and ensuring uninterrupted transport of products and cattle. The MPO is also assisting with on-farm COVID-19 protocols, supporting research and development programmes, and sharing COVID-19-related information, as well as information on the benefits of milk through various communication platforms.

Turbo-charged market signals key to success

Bertus van Heerden, chief economist of the MPO, presented an economic overview of the dairy industry, saying that primary agriculture remains an investment class asset. He looked at international commodity pricing and set the dairy industry context amid the South African economy.

According to Van Heerden, the MPO economic desk will, in the short term, focus on optimising the flow of information throughout the dairy value chain, promoting the qualities of milk to grow the market in line with the demand elasticity of the product, and advocating for the moving of built up stocks.

MPO Nedbank Stewardship Awards

Barbara Bieldt, manager of regulatory services and stewardship, provided information about the annual stewardship awards. Role-players in the industry are invited to submit nominations for the MPO Nedbank Stewardship Awards 2020, held in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature and The Dairy Mail.

Dairy farmers who are the epitome of a good dairy steward can be nominated in the fourth annual stewardship awards competition. The winner and runner up will be announced at the annual MPO gala event to be held on 4 November. Nedbank sponsors prizes to the value of R80 000 (R40 000 for the winner, R30 000 for the runner up, and R10 000 for third place) to use on-farm to help achieve stewardship goals.

World Milk Day 2020

World Milk Day focuses attention on milk and milk products and pays tribute to a product that is much more than just the sum of its nutrients. It is a highlight on the MPO’s calendar and celebrated by numerous events around 1 June. The MPO would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge South Africa’s dairy farmers who produce a multipurpose, healthy, and nutritious product, often under difficult circumstances, and who make an important contribution to the country’s food security and economy.

This year, the MPO is doing things a little differently because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures that apply. Working closely with Milk SA’s Consumer Education Project, the MPO will be hosting, among other things, several virtual activities – some of which have already been launched under the #SAlovesmilk social media hashtag.

Knowledge is power

Helene Pheiffer, manager of the MPO Training Institute, presented updates about the online courses launched during lockdown. The MPO Institute’s first online Zoom training course, presented by Dr Chris van Dijk, will focus on the biosecurity management programme. Two sessions will be held, on 18 and 19 June and again on 6 and 7 July.

The MPO Institute has also developed an online learning platform for farmers and farmworkers and the first online course, based on the dairy calf and heifer rearing, feeding and health care programme, will be launched in July. An online platform cannot replicate the value of face-to-face or on-farm training, but it can create new experiences and new skills for a blend in training opportunities.

Following the success of the dairy sensory evaluation course hosted in Elsenburg earlier this year, the MPO Institute will also host a two-hour webinar on the sensory evaluation of cheese on 24 June.

The Dairy Mail team has researched various platforms at length to evolve their digital strategy and integrate their print and digital product offering. The launch of The Dairy Mail’s progressive web application is just the next step in their journey to automated marketing and will enable advertising to the right audience at the right time far more effectively.

The current restrictive circumstances turbo-charged their growth phase and the development team literally built the application and populated it with the May issue in 40 lockdown days. The purpose of the app is to enhance the reader’s experience through artificial intelligence. – Press release, MPO