Dairy farmers milk the profits

Zambia's smallholder dairy sector is benefitting from a technical assistance programme provided by Land O'Lakes. Nawa Mutumweno reports SMALLHOLDER DAIRY FARMERS, producer groups and processors in Zambia have benefitted from technical assistance provided by Land O’Lakes since 2002.

This has promoted the growth of a competitive dairy sector and expanded local demand for dairy products and has also contributed to the reduction in food insecurity of vulnerable farmers by increasing incomes at rural household level.

Specifically, the programme has improved the genetic quality of dairy cattle owned by smallholder farmers (thereby increasing their milk output), increased the quantity of raw milk supplied by smallholder producers to milk processors (thereby increasing the incomes of these producers), increased dairy plant utilization capacity, assisted in new product development, implemented safety and quality management systems (thereby affording small farmers a secure market for their raw milk), and increased consumption of locally produced dairy products through educational and promotional campaigns.

Three-pronged programme

Land O’Lakes is using a three-pronged target group approach covering Dairy Production, Dairy Processing and Dairy Marketing and Consumption.

• Dairy Production – The primary programme target group is the vulnerable households willing, and having the potential to participate in a dairy development programme. Land O’Lakes sought to introduce or support dairy production to vulnerable rural households over the 2004 to 2008 period.

• Dairy Processing – In order to provide a stable market for its primary beneficiaries, Land O’ Lakes provides demand-driven technical support to dairy processors through capacity building of the Zambia Dairy Processors Association (ZDPA) and technical assistance to individual members of the association.

• Dairy Marketing and Consumption – Apart from improving the supply of milk, Land O’Lakes also seeks to advance the demand for locally produced dairy products in Zambia. This ensures smallholder dairy farmers can have stable incomes from dairy production. Hence the programme also targets the consumer through promotions and marketing campaigns aimed at increasing sales and consumption of milk and other dairy products.

• Through the Cow-to-Consumer Model and working with various partners, Land O’Lakes has brought together expertise in Cooperative and Business Development, Dairy Production, Feed Management, Improved Genetics and Breeding, Quality Assurance, Industry Organisation, Processing and Promotions and Marketing.

These interventions are helping develop stakeholders’ ability to respond to productivity, processing and marketing issues faced by the entire dairy sub-sector. Implementing partners include Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), Consortium for Southern Africa Food Emergency (CSAFE), Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART), Heifer International, World Wide Sires, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO), Zambia Agricultural Commodity Agency and the Zambia Dairy Processors Association (ZDPA).

Apart from the obvious advantages of improved food security among smallholder farmers, increased smallholder incomes from dairy production and increased average smallholder milk production, other key and discernible results encompass increased yield of smallholder farmers’ dairy cattle, distribution of improved incalf heifers to smallholder farmers, provision of intensive dairy production and management training to smallholder farmers, increase in the number of smallholder farmers delivering milk to Milk Collection Centres, increased volume of milk used by targeted processors to improve dairy products, introduction of artificial insemination among smallholder farmers, dairy product development and improvement, increased consumption of local dairy products and increased smallholder farmers’ participation in the Warehouse Receipt Programme. Land O’Lakes, Inc. is a US-based agricultural cooperative that was formed in 1921 by a group of dairy farmers. It is wholly owned by 300,000 US farmer members through 1,000 community cooperatives.

Land O’Lakes is the fourth largest cooperative in the US and while it is best known for its dairy products, it has diversified into international agri-business. For 25 years, Land O’Lakes has actively participated in international agricultural and economic development through its International Development Division. Land O’Lakes highly focused development approach builds upon training and technical assistance delivered to and through smallholder producer groups, processors and marketers. The approach works back from the market to producers by increasing quantity and quality of dairy products that augment incomes of small farmers while meeting consumer preferences.

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