The MoreMilkiT project recently reviewed the sustainability of dairy producer groups working with the project in Morogoro and Tanga.
The producer organizations sustainability assessment was carried out in July and August 2016 to gauge the level of sustainability and existing gaps in 30 producer groups. These groups were equipped, in 2014, by the project team with skills on how to manage group and dairy businesses based on their site-specific plans.
Six key dimensions associated with sustainable smallholder dairy producers organizations in East Africa—financial health, access to dairy inputs and services, relationship with external environment, member loyalty, effective and transparent leadership and management and engagement with the output market—were assessed.
Preliminary results showed that 57% of the sites assessed are ‘least advanced’ and are at ‘stage one’, meaning they lack revenue generating activities and do not collectively sell milk. As a result, these groups, which are in the extensive production systems of Mvomero and Kilosa districts, did not score on financial health and engagement with output markets. To advance to ‘stage two’, they need to improve in all sustainability dimensions, especially by developing income generating activities using member’s contributions.
But various (nine) groups were in stage two across project sites. These were generating profits from lending to each other and providing inputs. These groups have good leadership practices but they need to improve on engagement with the milk markets, financial health, access to inputs and services and effective leadership, areas in which they each scored below 50%.
Two groups from Ubiri and Mbuzii in Lushoto District benefited from MilkIT feeds interventions and are in ‘stage three’, evidenced by improved fodder and access to inputs and services. To move to stage four, the next (higher) level of sustainability, they need to start selling milk collectively. The most advanced groups were in Viti and Mwangoi also in Lushoto District. They scored above average in all dimensions and require minimal external support.
Elected group officials, extension officers linked to the group, district livestock officers and farmer representatives were involved in the assessment, which used a tool adopted from the East Africa Dairy Development project. The review also identified other opportunities for increasing sustainability and these will later be shared with the groups prior to the handover exercise of the producer groups.
MoreMilkiT is piloting the dairy market hub approach to facilitate market linkage and collective action among smallholder producers in Tanzania and is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The Sokoine University of Agriculture, Faida MaLi, Heifer International and Tanzania Dairy Board are partners in the Irish Aid-funded project.