East Africa Dairy Development Program

Project Timeframe:
Jan 2008 to Dec 2019


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) program is designed to boost the milk yields and incomes of small-scale farmers in Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) so they can lift their communities out of hunger and poverty. With help from a $25.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the second phase of EADD will work with more than 200,000 farmers to improve dairy production and access to markets. The project is led by Heifer International and implementing partners include the International Livestock Research Institute, the World Agroforestry Centre and African Breeder Services. In phase 2 (2015-2018), we are prioritizing four objectives (farmer sustainability, hub sustainability, gender equality, and replication) to benefit an additional 136,000 farm families.

In its first five years, EADD provided extensive training on dairy husbandry, business practices and operation, and marketing of dairy products to the 179,000 farming families in the program. Heifer and its partners also developed 27 milk collection hubs, strengthened 10 existing hubs, and formed 68 farmer business associations to manage the plants. Since then, EADD has grown to be one of the leading market-oriented development initiatives in eastern Africa.

Building on the success and lessons learned in Phase I, EADD II has refined and improved the hub approach. The program focuses on building social capital, and actively pursues partnerships with and investments from local processors and other private sector players. The goal is to increase hub sustainability so that other public and private entities are primed to scale up this approach. EADD II acts as a catalyst by bringing interventions that create innovative, scalable market-based solutions to help smallholder farm families improve their livelihoods and fulfill their needs and dreams.

The vision for EADD II is to provide an additional 136,000 smallholder farm families the opportunities to create financial independence and social equality. Together with our program partners, we are changing the nutritional landscape in East Africa, one family, one community at a time.

ICRAF’s role: Feeds and feeding systems

ICRAF leads the project’s feeds and feeding systems component, with the objective to promote the adoption of improved feeds among smallholder dairy farmers, leading to increased milk production and improved farm incomes and well-being. We work through dairy producer organizations, building their capacity to provide extension services to their members. Our strategy has seven elements:

1. Build partnerships

  • Hold “Whole System in the Room” meeting with a wide range of partners to develop common goals and plan activities to meet goals, building on existing strengths
  • Develop an innovation platform of value chain and civil society partners to promote improved feeds and feeding systems for farmers

2. Diagnose feed problems and gaps, plan feed needs and strengthen capacity 

  • Participatory assessments of feed needs and opportunities
  • Define “recommendation domains”, that is, types of farmer with similar needs and circumstances such that they would adopt a similar set of technologies and recommendations
  • Use of ILRI Feed assessment  tool (FEAST)   to assess  feeds needs, calculate requirements, and develop cost-efficient feed plans taking into account feeding system practiced (e.g., zero grazing, free grazing)
  • Build the capacity of producer organizations (POs), Ministry/NGO staff and other stakeholders to use FEAST
  • Help POs to launch the feed plans, to embed them into their strategies and to monitor and evaluate progress
  • The process requires a participatory approach involving farmers and other local stakeholders to ensure local ownership

3. Develop menu of options for farmers

The menu of options is based on the feed gap diagnosis and feed plan and addresses feeds requirements specific to particular recommendation domains. Gender analysis and farmers’ resource base given much emphasis in this process. Our aim is to help to promote technologies that can easily be adopted. EADD1 provided over 40 feeds and feeding practices options for farmers, but the number specific to each area was much less than the total because of differences in farmer needs and circumstances and shortages of planting material. 

Options include

  • Fodder grasses, which includes Napier, Rhodes grass, Columbus grass and forage sorghum
  • Fodder legumes and other high protein fodders, including  fodder shrubs (calliandra, tree lucerne and mulberry), Lucerne,  desmodium and sweet potato vines
  • Feed conservation methods which include hay baling and silage making
  • Feed preservation and use of crop residues and industrial by-products, which includes  maize stover, beans husks, barley and wheat straw, molasses and brewers’ waste
  • Labour saving technologies  including  use of chaff cutters and feed pulverizers
  • Commercial feed concentrates such as dairy meal, calf pellets and meal, mineral supplements and other raw materials for on-farm feed formulation
  • Linking farmers to organizations handling simple water harvesting technologies

To curb feed shortages during the dry season and ensure sustained milk production throughout the year, advisable options include conservation methods and use of fodder shrubs which, owing to their deep root systems, are drought tolerant 

4. Strengthen innovation platforms to enhance access to inputs and services

An innovation platform is a group of persons representing organizations who come together to diagnose problems, identify opportunities and find ways to achieve their goals. We will help develop informal innovation platforms to promote improved feeds and feeding systems for farmers and more specifically to

  • Help partners link to each other to meet specific goals, e.g. linking fodder seed companies to a producer organization (PO) to produce or sell seed
  • Promote commercialization of feeds, including hay production and silage making
  • Present value propositions to processors to provide inputs to farmers such as seed to increase milk productivity, which will help reduce their collection costs
  • Link feed buyers and feed sellers

5. Facilitate effective extension approaches

  • Strengthen capacity of POs to access or develop effective extension services,
  • Establish information centers at the POs for farmers to access extension materials
  • Link POs to government and NGO extension systems for backstopping
  • Facilitate and build capacity of POs to establish networks of volunteer farmer trainers, which will help PO’s extension staff reach more farmers. The trainers host demonstration plots, where suitable
  • Help POs to institutionalize the farmer trainer approach into their extension structures
  • Facilitate farmer exchange visits and field days
  • Engage the media as an advocate for improved feeds and feeding systems

6. Promote Climate Smart and Natural Resource Management (NRM) Practices

Climate Smart farming techniques are those that 1) increase farm productivity and incomes, 2) make agriculture more resilient to climate change, and 3) contribute to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.  Natural Resource Management refers to the sustainable use of resources such as water, land, soil, plants and animals by the current generation to meet their needs without compromising the quality of life for future generations using the same resources. There are many opportunities for dairy farmers in EADD to increase dairy productivity while at the same time adopting NRM and climate smart practices. These include:

  • Increasing dairy productivity reduces the number of cows needed to produce a certain quantity of mik, thus reducing greenhouse gases emissions and grazing pressure. Perennial fodder crops such as grasses and fodder shrubs protect soils and are more tolerant of drought than many annual crops.
  • Planting fodder legumes increases on-farm protein availability and reduces the amount of protein concentrate that would otherwise be needed, reducing the feed industry’s carbon footprint as well as reducing costs to farmers.
  • Using  cow dung in the production of biogas and compost manure  reduces the amount of methane (an important greenhouse gas) released to the atmosphere  
  • Properly managing and using of farmyard manure reduces the need for inorganic fertilizers and contributes to the sustainable management of healthy soil.  
  • Using renewable energy such as biogas and solar energy can help reduce the usage of firewood and fossil fuel.

7. Harvest feedback to learn how to improve project implementation

  • Determining performance of feed technologies, farmers’ preferences, uptake, and adaptations and constraints to adoption
  • Determining farmers preferences concerning sources of information and extension approaches
  • Assessing effectiveness of volunteer farmer trainer approach and how to improve its effectiveness