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Baladna lines up $3.5bn Algerian dairy venture

The Baladna project is intended to produce 1.7 billion litres of milk a year from 270,000 cows Alamy via Reuters
The Baladna project is intended to produce 1.7 billion litres of milk a year from 270,000 cows
  • Qatari producer signs agreement
  • World’s largest dairy farm project
  • Plan for herd of 270,000 cows

Baladna, the largest dairy food producer in Qatar, is exploring plans for a $3.5 billion venture in Algeria that will be based on a herd of more than a quarter of a million dairy cows.

The company has signed a framework agreement with the Algerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to set up what will be the world’s largest dairy farming and production project.

The venture, aimed at producing powdered milk, would be 51 percent owned by Baladna and 49 percent by the Algerian Government through the country’s National Investment Fund, Baladna said.

Under the agreement, Baladna’s Algeria dairy project will cover 117,000 hectares and will be divided into three sections, each including arable farming, dairy and beef farming and a powdered milk manufacturing facility.

It will have a production capacity of 1.7 billion litres of milk a year from 270,000 cows, enough to supply everybody in the country with three litres of milk a month each.

Agriculture provides direct or indirect employment to 13 million Algerians living in rural areas, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

Algeria’s agriculture sector grew by 4 percent in 2022, according to the World Bank, but growth is predicted to have fallen to just under 2 percent last year and the bank is expecting a similar rise in 2024. The World Bank is forecasting another dip for 2025, to 1.7 percent.

The agreement, which outlines a total investment of $3.5 billion, was signed by Souad Assous, director general of agricultural investment and land at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Mohamad Moutaz Al-Khayyat, chairman of Baladna. 

“Baladna has a proven track record of rapid and significant achievements in Qatar,” Al-Khayyat said. “It is with great anticipation that we aim to replicate this success in Algeria.”

The company’s CEO, Malcolm Jordan, said that the project aimed to meet 50 percent of Algeria’s demand for powdered milk, supplement the local market with red meat, create 5,000 jobs and contribute to the growth of the national cattle stock. 

Baladna Algeria dairyBaladna
Officials from Baladna and the Algerian government at the signing of the agreement for the $3.5bn dairy venture

In October, Baladna, which is listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, signed an agreement with the Suez Canal Authority to collaborate on a farm in Egypt’s south-west region.

The farm in Egypt would have 20,000 dairy cows, capable of producing 300 million litres of milk a year, the company said.

Baladna said it was also looking to cultivate 113,000 hectares to meet the project’s requirements for feed, and to provide agricultural products for local consumption and export.

Earlier this month, Baladna reported revenue of QR313 million ($86 million) in the first quarter of 2024, up from QR254 million a year earlier, while posting net profit of more than QR48 million, more than double that of Q1 2023. 

The business, established in 2014, is Qatar’s largest dairy and beverage producer. It supplies more than 85 percent of the country’s fresh milk.

It has more than 25,000 Holstein cows at its 240-hectare operation north of Doha. The company also produces yoghurt, laban, cheese and cream, as well as fruit juices, meat and organic fertilisers.

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