At the end of March, CELEP (the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism) organised an exchange visit for (pastoral) livestock organisations from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger on small-scale dairy production in Kenya. The one-week learning event was organised by Oxfam, RECONCILE, SNV, DITSL and VSF, and aimed to learn from Kenya’s experience in production, processing and marketing of local (pastoral) dairy products.
The event brought together several partners from the Voice 4 Change Partnership - from Burkina Faso the CSO PASMEP (Action Platform to Secure Pastoral Households) and FNS advisor Didier Coulidiaty participated; and from Kenya the CSO CUTS (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) was present.
The participants began their journey in the county of Isiolo in Northern Kenya, where they visited a camel herd belonging to a women-led camel milk cooperative called Anolei which is supported by SNV and VSF. Dairy is an attractive income-generating opportunity for pastoral women. Especially camel milk can ensure a relatively stable income throughout the year, as camels are resilient to dry periods. The visit to the cooperative gave insights into how the support by the SNV and VSF has led to enhanced milk quality, bulking and marketing of camel milk. The group also visited the Classic Foods factory, which processes 5000 litres of camel milk per hour, and is a successful example of a public-private partnership.
The visit continued to nearby Meru County where the participants visited the facilities of the Naari Dairy Farmers cooperative which is supported by SNV under the Kenya Market-led Dairy Programme (KMDP). The participants were very interested to see that the cooperative, next to milk collection, provides a number of additional services to its members, including training, sales of livestock feed, and veterinary services. With the support of SNV, which covered fodder production, milk quality enhancement, leadership & organisational development, the Naari Cooperative realised an increase in the quantity of milk produced from 1700 litres in 2013 to 5000 litters in 2018.
From Meru, the group made a long journey to Nakuru, where they visited a number of other actors in the local dairy value chain, as well as Egerton University. This university has extensive experience in the dairy and livestock sector, and has a processing unit on campus which provide practical learning about high quality processing techniques for milk, yogurt and cheese.
The learning visit ended with a workshop in Nakuru, where various actors (from research, NGOs and government) shared valuable insights into the different opportunities and challenges faced by the dairy sector in East and West Africa. The dairy sector in Kenya can count on strong support and enabling policy frameworks by the government, however the sector in West African countries is facing harsh competition from milk powder imported by European companies, due to low tax tariffs determined in European Union agreements with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The case of Kenya and its investment in extension services, milk processing, cooperative development, and quality improvements are among the key takeaways that can be applied in the West African context. Both regions however still face the challenge of undervaluation of small dairy producers at the cost of bigger companies, despite the smallholders’ huge contribution to the countries’ dairy production and food & nutrition security.
Through the learning exchange with Kenya, the Burkina V4CP team gained new ideas on how they can strengthen advocacy efforts to advance the (pastoral) dairy sector in Burkina. Next steps include building strong coalitions to realise joint advocacy efforts with relevant partners in West Africa and Europe. At the national level, advocacy will be directed towards stimulating the development of supportive policies, access to extension and training, and improved infrastructure and marketing. Sound evidence is very much needed to underscore the importance of local milk production, and to demonstrate the positive effect that a changing policy environment can have. Together with IFPRI, the V4CP team is working on generating such evidence.