Animal Products / Dairying / East Africa / Ethiopia / Event report / Livestock / LIVESTOCKFISH / Research

East Africa Dairy Development – Tackling the Ethiopian challenge and the ‘white revolution’

Extending a project into a new phase is always a perilous exercise. The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project is (re-) learning this lesson.

In the stakeholder consultation workshop that took place from 27 to 29 February, the project team sought feedback from participants regarding initial ideas for the extension of the program (a so-called ‘EADD-2’). The workshop aimed to pave the way for the development of a proposal which will be submitted in June 2012 to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This extension is a delicate balancing act between, on the one hand, the legacy from the Phase I of EADD and on the other, the challenges (and opportunities) of the new context i.e. Ethiopia and Tanzania (in addition to the current EADD countries: Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda).

EADD – the legacyMoses Nyabila, EADD regional leader, sets the scene

The extended project builds on strong credentials from the first phase of the EADD project which is taking place in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

By relying on demand and opportunities for potential beneficiaries, working through dairy cooperatives and ‘dairy hubs’ and by providing technical assistance, EADD-1 has achieved significant results that led Moses Nyabila, regional director of EADD, to state “we know that it works”:

  • Over 170,000 farmers were mobilized into more than 4.000 active producer communities;
  • Almost 70 producer companies have been set up or revitalized;
  • Farmers involved in EADD-1 are earning about a third of the retail price (US$ 33 million in 2011);
  • US$ 5 million was achieved in farmer investment and savings;
  • About a quarter of these dairy companies are led by women.

The second phase builds upon the lessons and experience from the first phase. EADD-2 promises to be more participatory (with a much stronger emphasis on scaling up and out and engaging a variety of dairy value chain actors from the start), more learning-focused (through ongoing documentation of the work undertaken to inform implementation along the way) and more attuned to stimulating enabling environments to develop better market access and enhance dairy productivity.

These factors fuel the hope that the extended project will double household dairy incomes by 2018 for an estimated 300,000 to 589,000 families. Ethiopia has a crucial role in this agenda, provided that some limitations are turned into opportunities.

Limitations and opportunities in Ethiopia

The choice of Ethiopia as one of the additional target countries in EADD-2 is justified by the great many challenges ahead. The Ethiopian dairy sector indeed leaves much room for improvement, as explained by Dr. Zelalem Yilma from Heifer International:

  • Africa accounts for less than 5% of the world’s milk production but on the continent, Ethiopia, despite an important cattle population, lags behind Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Sudan;
  • An Ethiopian cow is approximately 33 times less productive than an Israeli cow;
  • In the USA, numbers of cows and dairy farms started to decline and the production (and thus productivity) of dairy products to increase from the 1950’s onwards. In Ethiopia, both curves (dairy cattle population and production) are rising in parallel;
  • A lot of dairy enterprises in the country are operating sub-optimally, sometimes as low as half capacity;
  • Inseminations are also sub-optimal, leading to lower rates of pregnancies (around 40%);
  • A very poor documentation system does not allow public authorities to review their statistics and approach on a realistic basis;
  • Linkages among actors in the dairy industry are weak, e.g. between the private sector and the Ministry of Agriculture, between researchers and farmers, between non-governmental organizations and the private sector, between training service providers and farmers and generally with financial institutions.

In general then, Ethiopian dairy farm inputs (feeds, artificial insemination and veterinary services), labor, area and environment can be much improved. This is all the more crucial as the Ethiopian dairy sector is estimated to have created almost 600.000 full-time on-farm jobs in 2010. The limitations are also gaps that can be filled by initiatives that know how to join up the dots.

Embracing the challenge and embedding change

EADD-2 is tackling the challenge and determined to embrace the ‘white revolution’ hailed by Dr. Yilma in his inaugural presentation. The knowledge, capacity and experience assets of EADD-1 are precious. They can become instrumental in meeting the EADD-2 challenge if they are combined with the firm intention to build on existing initiatives and related projects such as the Agriculture Growth Program – Livestock Growth Project (AGP-LGP, funded by the United States Agency for International Development), the Livestock and Irrigation Value-Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (‘LIVES’) project, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and led by the International Livestock Research Institute or the Market-linked innovation for dairy development (MIDD) Programme of Wageningen UR and SNV.

The Ethiopian dairy might be in for major change. The intention of the EADD team is clearly to embed this change into ongoing policies and processes.

Will the “transformation, determination and synergy” hoped for by Dr. Yilma be enough to overcome the black holes in the Ethiopian white revolution?

More information on EADD.

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