The dairy industry in Tanzania – Team Makandana

14th July 2015

The training we are running in Makandana has a central focus around the dairy industry due to the vast majority of our entrepreneurs coming from agricultural backgrounds and our project partner being East African Dairy Development (EADD).

We however, are not so knowledgeable in such areas so close cooperation with EADD and the carrying out of local livestock surveys have proved essential for understanding the mind set of those we are striving to work with.  There is a proud heritage of cattle farming in Tanzania, stretching thousands of years back to the roots of the Masai tribe. Cattle ownership has long been a symbol of status and wealth, and nowadays they provide the main source of income for households across the country.

In a nation where traditions are held close to the heart and consistent education remains a primary goal, modern methods of dairy farming has proved to be a slow process. Whilst a typical dairy cow in the UK will produce 25-30 litres of milk per day, the entrepreneurs on our programme see figures more in the region of 1-5 litres per cow per day. This is due to a variety of factors such as poor quality feed. Cows here are typically fed grass and banana leaves and as opposed to the nutrient and supplement rich feeds used in the UK. This is mostly due to the cost of such supplies not being within the budget of most small holders we have come into contact with or simply a lack of availability in their area: a perfect example of a business opportunity available to members of the programme.

Another reason for the low milk yields is the lack of knowledge about appropriate breeds; something that EADD is working hard to rectify through education and artificial insemination programmes. 97% of cattle in Tanzania are local breeds. The remaining 3% are advanced breeds such as Friesian and Ayrshire, supply around 25% of the market supply of milk. Another issue faced by the industry is the absence of a milk drinking culture, again partly due to the lack of education, specifically of the health benefits associated with it, as well as availability of the necessary storing and processing facilities in rural areas. Efforts are being made on both parts by us and our partners to combat this through education within the health and schooling system here in Tanzania. Other options being explored include the manufacturing of by-products of milk and a business venture for participants and hopefully results from specific market research will shed more light on the feasibility of such enterprise.

During our short time here it has become apparent that the common problem facing the entrepreneurs on our programme is a lack of capital for initiating such business ventures. However, with dairy cows being a resource possessed by so many, community orientated social enterprises project a bright future in which the benefits of dairy development can be delivered to the masses at all stages of the value chain.

The dairy industry as a whole has the potential to provide a wide range of benefits, both social and financial, for the Tanzanian people and has been successful in neighbouring Kenya. However, only through careful cooperation with local knowledge to tailor modern advancements to their specific needs, will it be possible to arrive at a sustainable solution for an expansive untapped market.