"In the past, we did not have access to palatable green feed for our livestock, except for what the grazing land offered us. Unfortunately, the grazing land was covered predominantly with inedible plants. During the dry season, we had to feed our cattle with hay and other crop residues” said Fekerete Hailu, a female farmer in the East shoa region. Since 2012, SNV’s Enhancing Dairy Sector Growth in Ethiopia (EDGET) project has reached 65,000 smallholder farmers. Now that the project is near completion, we share some of their stories.

After receiving training on good agricultural practices the couple decided to reserve a quarter hectare for the cultivation of fodder. To enable them to start immediately with improved fodder practices, they got access to 70 kilograms of fodder. As a result, they were able to half the first insemination period from 36 to 18 months, and double their milk production in less than a year. The family is now able to get a continous supply of milk for their own consumption and sell more milk to the local dairy processing unit. "The project has allowed us to plan for the future. We have more income and are planning to raise an additional cow to increase our production." In addition, the training allowed Fekeret and Demeke to address gender imbalances in their relationship. "We now share care responsibilities for our cows more equally. Before I had to that by myself."

Wodajo Bekele, board member of a dairy farmers’ cooperative

Wodajo tells us that "the programme’s support not only increased the income levels of our smallholder dairy farmers, it has also helped to generate a regular supply of milk from our cooperative, making us a reliable supplier of quality dairy products. We were also able to start providing additional services such as loans, animal fodder and artificial insemination services to our members."

SNV strengthened government agencies' training capacity for cooperatives, for example on business management, quality milk collection and marketing, operations and maintenance. SNV also directly supported cooperatives to install dairy processing equipment such as butter churners, cream separators and milk-testers to help cooperatives produce quality dairy products that can be sold at the local market.

Dr. Gebre Egziabher Gebre Yohannes, ex-minister for Livestock and Fisheries of Ethiopia.

“EDGET has supported different value chain actors. Having dealt with extension services, input supply, smallholder production as well as collection, processing and marketing of dairy products, the project enabled the development of a stronger Ethiopian dairy sector” said Dr. Gebre Egziabher Gebre Yohannes.

Terefe Taye