In his first annual letter as Chief Executive Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jeff Raikes gives special mention to the East Africa Dairy Development Project which is opening up new market opportunities for small-scale dairy farmers through the setting up of milk chilling plants that also serve as hubs for access to vital inputs and financial services.
Jeff Raikes says,
Jeff Raikes says,
"...In March, I traveled to Kenya and Zambia to see some of that work. One of the sites I visited was a milk chilling plant in the Kenyan town of Ol Kalou. The plant, which is part of a project with Heifer International, gives almost 3,000 dairy farmers the ability to chill their milk so that it won’t spoil before it is transported to a processing plant. This facility opens up a whole new market opportunity for them.The East Africa Dairy Development project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Heifer International in partnership with ILRI, TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Breeders Services Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM).
I was impressed by the chilling facility, but what really struck me were all the additional services attached to it. The plant had become a central hub where dairy farmers in a radius of 50 kilometers could get access to financial services, buy feed, and seek veterinary care for their cattle.
This is one kind of investment foundations are well-suited to make. At some point, these agricultural hubs may be profitable. In that event, they will draw interest from the private sector. But businesses won’t take that risk unless somebody provides more evidence that the business model works. I am optimistic that our project with Heifer International will do just that, while helping thousands of farmers escape poverty and hunger...."