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The Kiboga West Dairy Plant, which processes 8,000 litres of milk per day and serves 1,500 farmers

This morning, Moses Nyabila shared a remarkable story of transformation that’s taking place in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda through Heifer’s East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project. Moses has been the regional director for EADD since 2008, and he spoke to a diverse group of representatives of numerous non-governmental organizations and agencies at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offices in Washington, DC.

The EADD program began in 2008 when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a five-year, $42.8 million grant to Heifer with the goal of doubling the income of 179,000 farming families in three East African countries over 10 years. EADD is now in its fourth year, and we’re analyzing the program’s results and discussing phase two of the project.

And the results are impressive, to say the least. Here are some key points from Moses’s presentation:
  • Before the program, millions of dairy farmers were disfranchised, without any say in the direction of the dairy industry in their area. Now, 142,000 farmers are mobilized into more than 3,000 active communities of producers.
  • In the past, few women were willing to take up leadership positions within their communities. After implementation of EADD, 26 percent of the program’s local leaders are women. 
  • Before EADD, less than 10 percent of farmers in the three EADD countries banked or had access to credit. Now, 80 percent of the 90,000 participant farmers in Kenya have bank accounts in communities once considered too poor for sound investing or bank financing.

At today’s event, Heifer CEO Pierre Ferrari told the attendees about his trip this past December to visit some of the EADD projects. Pierre holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and he said he was impressed with the farmers he met. Through EADD, these burgeoning entrepreneurs were selling their surplus milk and participating in the regional economy. “The rapidity at which they were learning and implementing these business practices was remarkable,” Pierre said.

You can join an ongoing conversation about food security and related issues at USAID’s new Agrilinks Blog. There, you can also view and download today's presentation.

And now it’s your turn. Should programs like this East Africa dairy initiative be implemented elsewhere? Could this same model be applied to other food commodities? Leave your ideas in the comments below.   

Author

Casey Neese