Supporting farming families in Nicaragua’s ‘Milky Way,’ to increase production and diversify their product offerings.
There are more than 138,000 dairy farmers in Nicaragua, who represent 39% of the country’s livestock production. Demand for milk and dairy products continues to grow, presenting a real opportunity for local farmers to increase their incomes, if they can be connected to markets across the country.
Currently, many farmers lack access to the support and expertise needed to manage and expand their dairy businesses. Output on many farms is far below potential, and if they are to sell to bigger, more formal markets, farmers need to improve milk quality.
Our New Incomes and Key Alliances in Milk project (NIKA Milk) is supporting 3,600 farming families in the North-Central region in Matagalpa – known as Nicaragua’s ‘Milky Way’ – to increase their milk production and expand the range of products they produce.
In the course of this four-year project that will run to 2021, farmers are expected to double milk production by improving the way they manage their animals, using different feeds and getting access to veterinary services to keep their cows healthy. Farmers are also setting up cooperatives which enables them to sell their milk as a group. Working through the cooperatives, they’re able to deliver on bigger contracts, which opens up new markets such as selling directly to some of the country’s bigger dairies – providing new opportunities to increase their incomes.
By negotiating directly with big buyers, farmers are also able to cut out some of the costs from the middlemen who used to buy direct from farmers and then sell to other markets, taking their own cut in the process. Transport costs are reduced when the levels of milk being supplied are higher, and working together, farmers can negotiate higher prices, which help to increase their incomes.
As part of the project, farmers have also started to produce other products that add value to their raw milk. Products such as yogurt and cheese are in demand across the country and by using some of their milk to make them, farmers can increase the profitability of each gallon of milk produced.
The NIKA Milk project also plans to launch a national campaign to show how consuming milk and other dairy products can play an important role in improving nutrition. The campaign aims to further increase demand for milk, providing farmers with a sustainable market for the future and more opportunities to close the living income gap.