News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Symposium develops policy to transform traditional milk markets in East Africa & Northeast India

Participants at the South-South dairy symposium held at ILRI Nairobi, 1-4 December 2009
PHOTO/Tezira Lore (ILRI)

Between 1 and 4 December 2009, some 25 dairy-sector stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Northeast India met at ILRI Nairobi for a South-South symposium to share lessons on traditional dairy development.

The symposium -- Opportunities for transforming the informal sector in emerging dairy markets -- brought together representatives from dairy regulatory authorities, research organizations and development NGOs.

India is currently the world's largest dairy producer and in Kenya, dairy is the largest agricultural sub-sector by contribution to GDP. In both India and East Africa, 70-90% of all milk sold is handled by the informal, traditional dairy sector which is also an important source of employment and nutrition.

During the symposium, case study presentations were made and discussions held under five themes:
  • The importance of the informal dairy sector and quality and safety challenges
  • Training and certification to improve milk quality and business performance
  • Innovation in products and developing dairy markets
  • Informal sector governance, different models for dairy boards and enabling policy environments
  • Barriers to transformation of the informal sector and investments for value addition
At the close of the meeting, the following key policy recommendations were put forward to guide dairy regulatory authorities and policymakers in the participating countries in their quest to transform and improve their traditional milk markets.
  • Best evidence suggests the informal sector will continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future. There is need for enabling policy to help facilitate the ongoing transformation and modernization of the traditional sector and to build stronger synergies with the formal sector.
  • There are concerns about public health and consumer safety and a real need to address these. Training and certification has proven a highly successful model for improving milk quality in East Africa, and this innovation shows promise for other southern countries.
  • Moving to quality-based payments provides a strong incentive for improving the quality and safety of milk has been successfully trialed in India and should be encouraged in East Africa.
  • As a long-term objective, harmonization of standards is required. In the short term, continued benchmarking between East Africa and South Asia can benefit both regions.
  • Dairy sector governance is complex with multiple agents and overlapping mandates. There is a need to co-ordinate agencies; a 'one-stop shop' for all dairy stakeholders would be the ideal model.
The symposium was organized by ILRI and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), through the support of various donors including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union.

EDIT UPDATE: To view the presentations and find out more about the symposium's outcomes, please visit the website

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