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These facilities will add value to their raw milk and increase the shelf life of their products.

The Enhancing Dairy Growth in Ethiopia (EDGET) project, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is encouraging and supporting smallholder dairy farmers to enable them to exploit reliable business opportunities. 

In many cases, lack of access to markets is disheartening dairy farmers, while wholesalers and retailers complain about shortage of quality milk products. SNV intervenes to bridge this gap by the establishment of decentralised rural dairy collection and processing centres. These centres will respond to market demands for quality milk products and will transform the smallholder subsistence farmers into solid entrepreneurial suppliers.

Recently, thirty dairy farmers in Kimbibit Woreda, Zengo kebele, established a cooperative with the aim of increasing their efficiency in milk collection and engage in processing butter and cheese for commercialization. The project will assist in related input resources to make this work, like introducing innovative equipment. The milk transporting system (MTS) will enable farmers to milk, store and transport milk in a hygienic way. These farmers will get training on how to use the MTS.

"The MTS, in addition, will help in preventing milk spillage and spoilage during and after milking as well as transportation". Yohannes Tesfu, EDGET Dairy Processing Expert 

Furthermore, the project will supply the centers with processing equipment such as cream separator, butter churner and lactometer on a lease/loan base. The members and staff of the cooperative will be trained and coached on processing including hygiene, food safety as well as management and marketing. These facilities will add value to their raw milk and increase the shelf life of their products.

Hans Meenink, team leader of EDGET, said, "The aim of EDGET is to support the rural milk value chain in order to increase dairy smallholders' revenues and sustain local economies. Local processing and marketing of milk products is one of the key elements to realise this goal. Therefore, EDGET supports decentralised dairy processing units."

Complementary to this, EDGET will support the development of agro–dealers for the commercial supply of concentrate feed, forage seeds and other inputs including the MTS. Farmers will be trained on how to use fodder and concentrate feed, how to grow fodder and preserve, and optimum feeding regiment of fodder and concentrate feed to their cattle depending on the period of lactation. Such knowledge will improve productivity and lead to efficient/economical use of feed resources. These combined elements will contribute to improving income and food security in Ethiopia for small holder dairy farmers.