Discipline: cheese; Keywords: cheese quality, fermented products, nutritional qualities, raw milk.

The overemphasis on economic challenges to small-scale farmers often overshadows the debate about potentiality of artisanal cheeses, which can be processed using local resources, with low input of ingredients and machinery. There is a need to evaluate the processing of artisanal cheeses in rural areas with appropriate economic approaches that consider the local people’s social-economic status, culture, and region. Strategies that could improve farmers’ productivity include technical training, indigenous knowledge development, mentorship, financial support and working as cooperatives. It has been highlighted that processing of value-added products, such as cheese, by small-scale farmers guaranteed a better income than the sale of raw milk. Fermented dairy products have been processed for years at household level and most of these skills have been modified and commercialized to meet the demands of people who moved to urban communities. Projects aimed at rebuilding these practices in rural communities could improve people’s nutritional status and income. The objectives of this review are i) to give an African perspective of artisanal cheese production and consumption, ii) to evaluate opportunities and challenges of artisanal cheese processing in rural areas, and iii) to provide insight into strategies to improve cheese making at small-scale level.

The authors concluded that the potential for expansion of the dairy sector through artisanal cheese making with small-scale farmers is significant. It is an opportunity for African communities to fight malnutrition and meet the nutritional requirements of people in rural areas at low cost. Artisanal value-added products are attractive because they would find a market for so-called natural products. Small-scale farmers fit this market well because consumers tend to favour local products as they are viewed as having local identities, possessing favourable sensory properties, and as being affordable. Lack of economic information and knowledge pose barriers to entry into small-scale artisanal cheese production. More research should focus on designing a cheese-making model for small-scale producers and disseminating the information properly. Although the farmers might face challenges, if supported with proper technical training and knowledge development, they could adopt the artisanal cheese-making model effectively.    


F. Nyamakwere, G. Esposito, K. Dzama & E. Raffrenato, 2021. A review of artisanal cheese making: An African perspective. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci. 51, 296-309.