Farmer Sustainability is a key outcome for the project. It is measured primarily through increased milk productivity per cow per day, which ultimately leads to increased milk production and productivity at the household level. To help farmers achieve maximum yield, we promote knowledge and skills in productivity enhancing technologies, climate smart agriculture and sustainable land management practices.
As a result, farmers adopted productivity enhancing technologies (e.g. feed technologies), and animal health and breeding practices (e.g. artificial insemination) to increase milk production at the household level.
Milk production per day is gradually increasing at the household level. In 2015, Tanzania and Uganda reported increases over the baseline; however, a prolonged drought through mid-2015 caused low milk production in Kenya (see graph at right).
Overall, these results show improved performance among dairy farmers who participate in PO/Hubs, and encourages other farmers to participate in the project.
Productivity Enhancing TechnologiesThe 2015 Phase II Impact Evaluation shows a positive trend in farmers adopting productivity enhancing technologies at farm level. This is a result of the structures and systems for service delivery we have put in place. The increase in adoption of these technologies was attributed to the increased value farmers attached to them and the model of delivery of the trainings which were participatory.
Animal HealthWe teach farmers how to take preventive health measures to ensure the wellbeing of their animals, such as methods for disease prevention, disease treatment and milk hygiene.In collaboration with local government extension officers and Phase II staff, lead farmers trained their peers in general animal management, and livestock disease prevention and treatment. Farmers received veterinary medicines for animal disease prevention and control, which largely focused on East Coast Fever vaccinations, and worm and tick control.Additionally, the PO/Hubs developed animal health plans, formed PO/Hub extension committees and recruited extension coordinators, Community Facilitators (CFs) and Community Agro-vet Entrepreneurs (CAVEs). By project end, it will lead to an increase in production and productivity at the household level.Agro-vets have monitored and reported on disease outbreaks to community and government networks in order to better control the spread and ensure rapid treatment. Below, the Adoption of Animal Health Practices chart indicates that farmers are embracing the techniques that will - over time - lead to increased yield on their farms.
Despite a slower than anticipated transition between Phase I and II, the project has gained momentum with several key indicators meeting their targets toward catalyzing sustainable impact. At the same time, there have been significant challenges in the new sites, especially in Tanzania, but also in Uganda.
Progress continues to be made in areas that have fallen below target with continuous monitoring to adjust tactics or consider new interventions to accelerate progress.
The social capital development approach was intensified over the past year, and it has injected new energy into farmer mobilization and recruitment. The formation of Dairy Interest Groups at the community level is designed to enhance farmers’ social cohesion toward joining, accessing and benefiting from PO/Hub services. Though in its early stages, social capital is seen to contribute toward stronger Dairy Interest Group and PO/Hub sustainability through improved leadership, ownership and capacity building.
There was a notable increase of farmers adopting climate smart agriculture and sustainable land management practices. This has been attributed to enhanced training and awareness among farmers.
Sustainability assessments were conducted to direct country-level operational plans and budgets around PO/Hub priorities. The plans are guiding project teams in closing key gaps such as, enhancing the value proposition of PO/Hubs to farmers, and improving market access, governance and financial health.
The 2015 Producer Organization Sustainability Assessment shows that PO/Hub sustainability performance is on an upward trend compared to 2014. Despite slow member registration and a delayed business launch, Tanzania is expected to show accelerated progress in 2016. In Uganda, 85 percent of Phase I PO/Hubs (18 of 21) achieved a score of 50 percent or more, meeting the minimum target to trigger graduation. In Kenya, seven out of the eight PO/Hubs achieved a score of 50 percent, and five PO/Hubs achieved more than 60 percent - denoting readiness to exit the project.
The Road from Farm to Market
This article originally appeared in the 2015 Holiday edition of World Ark magazine
Southern Highlands, Tanzania - A thin, pink notebook rests on the living room coffee table of Rahel Mhema and her husband, Steven Kipagatie, at their home in Ikando village. Malengo, "goals" in Swahili, is neatly written in capital letters at the top of the book's cover.
Shortly after receiving a dairy cow from Heifer International Tanzania in 2010 the couple sat down to share their long-term dreams together, and they decided it was a good idea to write them down. Reading from the book, Kipagatie listed their goals: “Educate our children through high school and on to university; establish an orchard; buy more land for commercial timber; plant timber trees; buy a motorcycle.”
Five years later, Mhema, 40, and Kipagatie, 43, have achieved all of their goals and then some—they also started beekeeping, added goats and another cow, and have enough money to hire help for their farm.
When the two married 19 years ago, setting goals like these seemed futile. Mhema supported both of them by sorting tea in a factory, where she might work a week with only a four-hour break every 24 hours or go two or three days without sleep. After seven years of this grueling work, Mhema left the factory, and the couple tried their hand at farming. But the farm never paid off by itself. Fortunately, the cow did.
It’s the classic Heifer story—and literally, a heifer story—the gift of a cow and training leads to a life that once seemed out of reach for a family of farmers. Milk money provides for the basics and allows Mhema and Kipagatie to invest in other profitable ventures while also saving for the future. The cow’s manure increases the quality and quantity of their crops. And all of that leads to checking off each of the aspirations listed in the pink malengo notebook.
But now Mhema and Kipagatie have a new goal. Through Heifer’s East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) program, Mhema and Kipagatie’s next step is to become entrepreneurs on a larger scale.