Dairy farming = ‘dairy education’: The sector that is educating Kenya’s children – filmed story

This 3:25-minute film shares how keeping cows has enabled Margaret Muchina, a dairy farmer from central Kenya, to support and educate her four children, who include Edward Kimani, who sat for his high school exam in 2010 and emerged as one of the country’s best students.

This single mother from Kenya’s Kiambu District started keeping dairy cows on her 2-acre farm in 1985. Her regular dairy income, mostly through daily milk sales, has been critical in enabling her to support her family, including the schooling of her children. Her dairy income is now supporting Kimani’s education at the University of Nairobi, where he is studying for a bachelor’s degree in geology.

Between 1997 and 2005, Margaret was one of many Kenyan farmers who participated in an award-winning Smallholder Dairy Project that carried out research to help improve the country’s smallholder, and largely informal, dairy sector, which trades mostly in ‘raw ‘ (unpasteurized) milk and was then being more harassed than supported by regulatory authorities.

The Smallholder Dairy Project supported a move towards towards a more favourable policy environment that paved the way for significant increases in the number of raw milk traders in the country, which helped milk producers like Margaret sell more milk leading to wider economy wide benefits for small-scale farmers.

Like many other Kenyans keeping one or two dairy cows to help them feed their families and send their children to school, Margaret Muchina is grateful to the Smallholder Dairy Project for information on best farm management and milk handling practices. Mrs Muchina now operates her small dairying with greater freedom and with new support from her government.

The Smallholder Dairy Project was led by Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock and implemented by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Find out more about the Smallholder Dairy Project

ILRI’s current work in dairying focuses on value chain development in Tanzania. Read more here.

Staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and many other CGIAR centres and research programs will be discussing the successes of Africa’s agriculture, including how its livestock sector can help achieve food security in the continent, at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) in Accra, Ghana. This event is being hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Government of Ghana and runs from Monday–Saturday, 15–20 Jul 2013.

Check out this blog next week for more stories from the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week.

Milk markets as ‘the great equalizer’ in East Africa?

Making agriculture profitable for poor farmers builds self-sufficiency

A dairy farmer in Kenya. Incorporating informal milk producers and traders into the country’s formal milk markets is improving the welfare of the poor (photo credit: Flickr/Gates Foundation).

Remarkably, more than 80 per cent of the milk produced and sold in Kenya comes from small-scale players, typically farmers raising one or two dairy cows on small plots of land and milk hawkers plying their trade on bicycles on streets and in villages.

The fast-growing dairy sector in this East African country could help tens of thousands of people climb out of poverty. But this will require supporting small-scale milk producers and traders in gradually entering the country’s formal milk markets.

Until recently, Kenya’s informal milk producers and traders were harassed rather than supported by officials because they were unregulated and were perceived to be a threat to public health.

A chapter in a new book, Towards priority actions for market development for African farmers, describes how Kenya’s small milk producers and sellers are being integrated into formal dairy markets. Authors Amos Omore and Derek Baker, from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), say that what was needed was ‘recognizing and embracing’ the big contributions of dairy’s informal producers and traders and the potential role played by the informal milk markets in fighting poverty. According to the researchers, the removal of policy barriers to allow price-based competition to govern milk trade is enabling this informal dairy industry to significantly improve the welfare of the poor.

Using lessons and examples from a highly collaborative research and development Smallholder Dairy Project, the authors point out that training and certifying small-scale milk traders helps draw the informal milk producers and traders into a more ‘formal’ trading environment. This training also raises consumer confidence by improving and guaranteeing the quality of milk produced for market. With this training, which also teaches business and entrepreneurial skills, the small market players are increasing their incomes as well as milk consumption among poor communities.

‘This dairy project was instrumental in bringing about “mind-set and policy changes” and an impact on the profits made by milk producers in Kenya,’ say Omore and Baker. ‘It also provided a new model of incorporating these small producers into the formal sector.’

Carried out between 1997 and 2005, the Smallholder Dairy Project was led by Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development and implemented by ILRI and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. It was funded by the UK Department for International Development.

Kenya’s dairy industry, one of the largest in Africa, is supported by over 1.8 million mostly small-scale cattle producers who at the time of implementing the Smallholder Dairy Project supplied over 86 per cent of the country’s milk through direct milk sales from producers to consumers and from dairy farmer groups and over 40,000 small-scale farmers.

The chapter argues that small-scale milk traders trained and certified by the Kenya Dairy Board improved their hygienic practices in milk production and handling. These efforts have brought about ‘direct and sustainable benefits’ for dairy-dependent livelihoods, including making more milk available in the market and higher prices. More licensed small-scale vendors now to operate in the country contributing to more competitive prices that encourage farmers to produce more milk.

The success of the dairy project in mainstreaming Kenya’s the informal milk producers into Kenya’s dairy industry led to a revision of the country’s licensing processes, which then began to start recognizing these informal milk sellers. A 2004 dairy policy change paved the way for significant increases in the number of traders adopting milk testing methods, greater enforcement and compliance in milk quality control and an on-going regional harmonization of dairy policies and standards aiming to transform informal milk markets in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda along the lines of the Smallholder Dairy Project in Kenya.

For the tens of thousands of small milk producers in Kenya, these policy changes have made a great difference. Evidence suggest that without the Smallholder Dairy Project, these benefits would have taken another two decades to come to small-scale dairy sector players.

Read the full chapter (part of section 4):


Download the whole book:


For more information about the Smallholder Dairy Project visit: http://www.smallholderdairy.org/default.htm


Kenya’s small milk traders benefit from research evidence leading to pro-poor policy change

Milk sale #2 in Nairobi's informal market

Sale of unpasteurized in Nairobi’s informal Dagoretti Market (photo credit: ILRI/Brad Collis).

A case study recently posted on the Research for Development (R4D) website of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) reviews a policy change in Kenya that has greatly benefitted the country’s many small-scale milk vendors. The ‘raw’ (unpasteurized) milk sold by these milk hawkers has become safer, the poor milk sellers have made more profit, the poor consumers have more affordable milk to buy, and many unskilled people have been able to get jobs in small-scale milk enterprises and trade.

In all, these benefits add up to more than USD33 million every year. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) worked for a decade with the relevant Kenya Government ministries and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute to bring about these pro-poor policy changes. This research was supported throughout by DFID and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

‘Evidence-based research by the DFID-funded Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP) revealed the economic and nutritional significance of the informal milk sector and the potential for improved handling and hygiene practices, which would ensure quality and safety of milk from farm to cup. The second phase of the project (2002-2005) involved more active engagement with policymakers to raise awareness of its research findings on the informal milk market, its importance for livelihoods, and to allay public health concerns while simultaneously working with milk vendors to pilot training and certification approaches that effectively improve quality. Updated dairy industry regulations, designed to streamline licence application processes for smallscale milk vendors, were issued by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development (MoLFD) in September 2004.

‘Total economy-wide gross benefits accruing to the sector from the policy change are estimated at US$33 million per annum, as a result of reduced transaction costs and less milk spoilage due to improved practices by newly-trained vendors. More than half of the benefits accrue to producers (increased incomes) and consumers (lower milk prices). Licensing of smallscale milk traders by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) has also led to formation of groups under the umbrella of the Kenya Smallscale Milk Traders Association. A further legacy of the project is the establishment of self-employed business development service providers, who are paid by dairy companies and traders to provide training on milk handling and business development. The lessons learnt from the SDP are being applied across East Africa, particularly Tanzania and Uganda, and also in India.’

Read the full (5-page) case study: Policy change: Milking the benefits for smallscale vendors, DFID and ILRI, 2010.

More information:

Leksmono, C., J. Young, N. Hooton, H. Muriuki, and D. Romney (2006), Informal traders lock horns with the formal milk industry: the role of research in pro-poor dairy policy shift in Kenya, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and International Livestock Research Institute Working Paper No. 266, London/Nairobi.

CGIAR Science Council, (2008), Changing dairy marketing policy in Kenya: The impact of the Smallholder Dairy Project, Science Council Brief Standing Panel on Impact Assessment No. 28.

Competitive dairying offers pathways out of poverty, new global study says

woman feeding cow

A dairy farmer feeds her cows in Kenya. A new global study says competitive dairying offers small-scale dairy producers in Africa a pathway out of poverty (photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project)

Investing in the dairy sector and growing it into a competitive industry would offer small-scale dairy producers in sub-Saharan Africa opportunities to increase their incomes, meet food requirements and find a way out of poverty, according to a new study that assesses global perspectives for smallholder milk production by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The status and prospects for smallholder milk production—A global perspective, a study jointly published by FAO and the International Farm Comparison Network and released September 2010, says ‘making smallholder dairy production more competitive could be a powerful tool for reducing poverty, raising nutrition levels and improving the livelihoods of rural people in many developing countries.’

The study notes that rising milk demand, which is growing by about 15 million tonnes per year in developing countries, provides a chance for small-scale dairy farmers to raise their milk production, which would not only create jobs but also help to ‘establish sustainable dairy chains that can meet local consumer and world market demands’. ‘Growing consumer demand for dairy products in developing countries, driven by population growth and rising incomes, offers important market opportunities for smallholders,’ the report adds.

The Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is at the forefront of helping small-scale dairy producers benefit from the dairy sector through projects such as the Smallholder Dairy Project, which contributed to a review of the Kenya dairy policies beginning in 2004, eventually leading to remarkable benefits of over US$230 million for Kenyan milk producers, vendors and consumers in the past 10 years. Interventions of this project have also led to a three-fold increase in milk production across areas where the project worked with small-scale dairy farmers.

ILRI is also helping to implement a Heifer-International-led East Africa Dairy Development project in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda that is improving the dairy incomes of over 170,000 dairy farmers. The project is organizing farmers into cooperative groups to pool resources and buy milk cooling facilities, improve animal breeds, improve fodder and train farmers how to better manage their milk business. In the past two years of the project’s implementation, changes in attitude among dairy farmers have led to economic benefits that are improving the livelihoods of East Africa’s small-scale dairy producers.

Around 150 million small-scale dairy farming households (750 million people) are engaged in milk production globally, with most of them in developing countries, according to the study; some six billion people, most of them in developed countries, consume milk and milk products.

With global prices for dairy products expected to rise in coming years, the report notes that small-scale milk producers ‘have very competitive production costs’ and thus calls for small-scale dairy producers to be organized in order for them ‘to compete with large-scale, capital-intensive, “high-tech” dairy farming systems’. ‘Better farm management practices, expanding dairy herd sizes and increasing milk yields could easily improve smallholder labour productivity, making dairy sector development a potent tool for poverty reduction,’ the report says.

The study, however, cautions that ‘smallholder dairy production will only be able to reach its full potential if some of the threats and challenges the sector is currently facing are addressed. In many developing countries, smallholders lack the skills to manage their farms as “enterprises”; have poor access to support services like production and marketing advice; have little or no capital to reinvest with limited access to credit; and are handicapped by small herd sizes, low milk yields and poor milk quality.

Dairy sectors in developing countries also face the challenge of competing with massive policy interventions (price support, milk quotas, direct payments, investment support programmes, export subsidies) in developed countries, which create a competitive advantage for dairy production in developed countries and penalize dairy farmers in developing countries, the report noted.

Smallholders are also affected by trade liberalization, which increasingly exposes them to competition from large-scale corporate dairy enterprises that are able to respond more rapidly to changes in the market environment.

Any dairy development strategy, the study recommends, must not exclusively focus on dairy producers but improve competitiveness throughout the entire dairy production chain, targeting farmers, input suppliers, milk traders, processors, retailers and others.

This article is adapted from a press release ‘Small-scale dairy production: a way out of poverty’ published by FAO on 29 September, 2010.


To read the complete report please visit: http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1522e/i1522e00.htm

To find out more about ILRI’s contribution to small-scale dairy production in Africa and Asia read the following related dairy stories from the ILRI news blog:




Changes in Kenya’s dairy policy give wide-ranging benefits to milk industry players, new study shows

Woman milking

A dairy farmer milks a cow in Kenya’s Nyandarua district. Kenyan small-scale dairy farmers are benefitting from  the dairy policy changes that began in 2004. (Photo credit: East African Dairy Development Project)

Recent findings from an assessment of the impacts of the Kenya dairy policy change of September 2004 show that changes in the sector, which incorporated small-scale milk producers and traders into the milk value chain and liberalised informal milk markets, have led to an increase in the amount of milk marketed, increased licensing of milk vendors and an increased demand for milk leading to benefits of US$230 million for Kenyan milk producers, vendors and consumers over the past 10 years (US$33 million per year).

The study, conducted between August 2007 and January 2008 among milk producers, vendors and dairy farmers in Nairobi, Nakuru, Thika and Kiambu towns, shows there was a threefold increase in marketed milk in all the towns with Nairobi recording a fourfold increase between 2004 and 2008. The findings also show that overall, ‘small-scale dairy operators have profited from quick, relatively high volume turnovers and welfare benefits to small-scale vendors have increased,’ since the introduction of the new policies in Kenya’s dairy industry.

According to the study ‘allowing licenced small-scale milk vendors to operate leads to increased milk supply to the retail market’ and it also found a continual increase in the number of small-scale milk vendors acquiring licences since 2004 to run milk bars to meet the increased demand for milk.

The study’s findings show that in Nairobi, the highest profits were gained by non-producer mobile traders, followed by milk bars and mobile transporters while in Nakuru those who benefited the most were producer mobile traders. The study, however, notes that the changes in policy also led to a decrease in market margins for retailers with an average 9% reduction across the surveyed towns. Milk traders in Nairobi experienced a reduction of Ksh 0.80 (US$0.012) per litre of milk sold.

With nearly 800,000 Kenyan smallholder households depending on dairying for their livelihoods and the dairy sector providing employment to over 350,000 people in milk collection, transportation, processing and sales; the dairy industry plays an important role in meeting the livelihood needs of poor Kenyan households as well as in contributing to Kenya’s economic development.

The study ‘Kenyan dairy policy change: influence pathways and economic impacts,’ was carried out by Amos Omore, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), among others researchers from Qatar University, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). It assessed the impact of the Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP) and its contribution to the revised Kenya dairy policy and looked at the behavioural changes among field regulators and small-scale milk vendors resulting from recognition of their role in the milk value chain. The study also estimated the economic impact of the policy on producers, vendor and consumers.

Among the study’s other findings is that as a result of the new policies, milk handlers across the country are better trained, ‘with 85% reporting they had been trained on milk handling and quality control methods’ and that it is now much easier for producers and vendors to acquire licenses for their operations. Training and licensing is carried out by the Kenya Dairy Board and the Public Health Department who are now ensuring that licensed outlets and premises, especially those run by small-scale milk vendors, meet all hygiene, testing, sanitation and health requirements for milk handling. They also assist the milk vendors to meet these condition and this change in approach means that nearly all producers and traders understand the requirements of milk handling and quality control.

Kenya has made significant progress in liberalizing its dairy industry and is working towards training and licensing more small-scale milk vendors to allow them to fully engage in the formal milk sector. As a result of these experiences, the study says, there has been ‘behavioural changes among regulators and small-scale milk vendors that has led to positive economic benefits across Kenya.’

To read the complete report and its findings, visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2010.06.008

The Smallholder Dairy Project which started in 1997 and ended in August 2005 was implemented by ILRI, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the Kenya Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development. It was funded by the UK Department for International Development. To read more about the project and its achievements, visit http://www.smallholderdairy.org/default.htm

Small-scale traders drive growth of Kenya’s milk industry

Over 80 per cent of Kenya’s milk output is produced by close to 800,000 smallholder dairy farmers in a sector that also has 350,000 smallholder milk vendors. In recent years, Kenya’s dairy sector has experienced a major growth in milk production as a result of various programs that have streamlined the industry and given support to dairy farmers and the country’s milk value chain that ties producers to sellers to consumers.

One such initiative is a Smallholder Dairy Project, which worked with the country’s dairy farmers between 1997 and 2005. The project was implemented by the Government of Kenya, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) together with other partners.

In this 7-minute film, produced by WRENmedia, Margaret Lukuyu, who was part of ILRI’s team in the project (she now works with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute), talks about how small-scale milk vendors in Kenya have improved the ways that they handle milk, which has resulted in higher profits for them. She says the sellers have also increased their milk supply to consumers in an industry that contributes about 4 percent of total national gross domestic product (GDP).

One of the key successes of the project was the licensing of smallholder milk traders and farmers in the ‘informal milk sector’ into various registered groups, such as the Kenya Smallholder Milk Traders Association, which has empowered both farmers and traders to lobby for needed policy changes. This project played a key role in reforming Kenya’s national dairy policy and increased support for the country’s massive ‘informal milk sector’, which trades in unpasteurized (‘raw’) milk.

The film also highlights the experiences of Teresa Kamau, a business developer who trained farmers and traders in business management skills as part of the project, and Gabriel Karanja, a milk trader who has seen increased returns as a result of his sales of clean and higher-quality milk.


For her contribution to the dairy sector in Kenya through the Smallholder Dairy project, Margaret Lukuyu was one of sixty outstanding women agricultural scientists from 10 African countries who received a 2010 fellowship from an AWARD (African Women in Agricultural Research and Development) program in July. Read about the fellowships here.

For more information about the Smallholder Dairy Project, visit http://www.smallholderdairy.org/default.htm

The role of research in a pro-poor dairy policy shifts in Kenya

The role of research in a pro-poor dairy policy shift in Kenya
New case study highlights lessons learned from Kenya's highly successful Smallholder Dairy Project.
The BBC ‘Small Is Beautiful’ series recently showcased Kenya’s Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP), which won four prestigious international awards during its eight years of operation. Researchers from ILRI and the Overseas Development Institute have now documented and analysed the circumstances and key factors that contributed to the overall success of the Project. This case study document will be particularly valuable to individuals and organizations engaged in policy processes or seeking to influence pro-poor policy changes. Some of the key success factors cited in the report are:

  • Use of evidence. Wide-ranging, highly robust, and relevant evidence was instrumental in influencing policy change in Kenya’s dairy sector. ILRI and the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) collaborated on this project with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development; the inputs of both highly reputable research institutions added to the credibility of the evidence.


  • Highly collaborative approach. The strong collaborative approach taken by this Project was a major factor in its success in changing policy. Much of this was underpinned by years of previous collaboration between the implementing organizations. Innovative links between the project and advocacy-focused civil society organizations (CSOs) also played a key role. Although research organizations and CSOs differ in mandates and operational modes, effective collaboration between them was achieved by developing and maintaining a shared vision. Linking with CSOs to advocate policy change was crucial to the success of this Project. These links helped the Project open new channels for influencing key individuals and groups and provided the Project with access to grassroots organizations.
  • Citizen voice and representation. The Project staff took advantage of the changing political context in Kenya, including the role of civil society and increased influence of citizens. Project staff took every opportunity to participate in meetings to communicate evidence. Indeed, the years the Project spent regularly feeding research-based information and evidence to other organizations  and stakeholders in the develoment of Kenya’s dairy industry proved highly important. Armed with credible facts, farmers were empowered to speak at a Dairy Policy Forum held at the close of the Project, in April 2005. By holding this Forum, the Project was able to gain support of politicians and other key officials.

The full report, ‘Informal Traders Lock Horns with the Formal Milk Industry: The Role of Research in Pro-Poor Dairy Policy Shift in Kenya,’ can be downloaded here.

Listen to Kenya’s Dairy Story

Small is Beautiful – The Kenya Dairy Story
Kenyans love their milk. Most of the 3 billion litres consumed there each year is produced by smallholders with a couple of cows, and sold house-to-house by thousands of street hawkers and doorstep milkmen. But this whole milk business was under threat. In the third edition of the One Planet series (on BBC World Service) which is sharing small business success, Susie Emmett discovers how the farmers and traders fought back to keep the milk flowing.

Listen to a recording of the BBC World Service broadcast produced by WRENmedia. (See Note below)

Note: The latest numbers

Some of the numbers quoted in this BBC World Service broadcast ‘Small is beautiful’ have been obtained from much earlier estimates. These figures, however, grossly understate the true size and extent of Kenya’s milk sector. SDP has provided recalculated figures, which more accurately reflect the picture in Kenya today.

1. Smallholder dairy farms recalculates to be 1.8 million (up from 800,000)
The estimated 800,000 smallholder farms has been widely cited for many years, during which time Kenya’s population has grown significantly. SDP recalculates the number of smallholders to be 1.8 million.

2. Milk hawkers recalculated to be 39,650 (up from 30,000)

SDP recalculates the number of small milk vendors in Kenya to be 39,650.

3. Number of dairy cattle recalculated to be 6.7 million (up from 3 million)
There are concerns about the reliability of the official cattle figures for Kenya; no livestock census has been conducted for decades and the methods used to estimate cattle numbers are imprecise. A conservative estimate of the size of the national dairy herd using detailed SDP survey data suggests that there are about 6.7 million dairy cattle (2.7 million high grade and 4 million crosses) owned by 1.8 million rural smallholder farms mainly in the Kenyan Highlands. This projected cattle population is more than twice the officially reported figure of 3 million for the national herds.

4. Total milk produced recalculated to be 4 billion litres per annum (up from 3 billion)
Based on SDP’s recalculated cattle projections above, SDP recalculates total milk production in the rural highlands to be an estimated 4 billion litres per annum.

5. Annual consumption of milk recalculated to be 145 litres per person (up from 100 litres)
SDP recalculates annual milk consumption by Kenyans to be 145 litres per person, making Kenyans amongst the highest milk consumers in the developing world. The rural areas have an estimated population of about 14.5 million people. Assuming that the estimated 9.6 million people living in the urban areas mainly depend on milk from the high potential areas, and that 13 percent of production goes to calf feed or spoilage loss, milk availability from the highlands was estimated to be about 145 litres per person per year. Previously, milk consumption in Central and Rift Valley provinces, which are important milk production areas, has been estimated to be between 144 and 152 litres per person per year.

Source: SDP Policy Brief No.10.

BBC World Service features Kenya’s dairy story

The third edition of the BBC World Service series Small is Beautiful will be broadcast on Thursday 6th April and this week looks at Kenya's highly successful informal dairy sector.
The BBC series is examining the future of small business and which types of businesses will survive in the long term. In a world that seems to be dominated by big corporations, will it be the big businesses that produce high quantities at least cost that will survive, or the smaller ones?

The series Small is Beautiful takes its inspiration from a book published thirty years ago by the famous economist E.F. Schumacher. In his book, “Small is Beautiful”, Schumacher argued that small business is better for people, better for national economies and better for the environment.

This week you can hear about Kenya’s thriving milk industry. The programme will be broadcast at 09.30 and 17.30 on BBC FM in Nairobi on Thursday 6th April, or you can listen online at the BBC website from 10.06 GMT Thursday 6th April. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/one_planet.shtml

Previous broadcasts in the BBC World Service Small is Beautiful series looked at the producers of Parma Ham in Italy and banana producers of the Caribbean.

Key drivers of the informal dairy sector in Kenya
Kenyans love milk! They consume more of it than almost anyone else in the developing world. On average, each Kenyan drinks about 100 kilograms of milk a year, four times the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the milk bought is raw milk supplied by the informal dairy sector. Mostly because of higher price, processed pasteurized milk is consumed in much smaller amounts, except in Nairobi. Studies indicate that the formal market will grow only as household incomes increase. Thus, the informal market is likely to predominate for many years to come, as it is driven by demand from mostly poor consumers.

There are several reasons why raw milk is so popular in Kenya:

  • Raw milk is 20 to 50 percent cheaper than pasteurized milk, as its supply involves fewer costs
  • Many prefer the taste and high buttermilk content of raw milk
  • Raw milk can be sold in variable quantities, allowing even very poor households access to some milk
  • In areas where transport is poor, it is often easier to find a farmer with a cow than a shop with packaged milk
  • It is traditional that raw milk is boiled before consumption, and consumers feel justifiably that simply boiling raw milk removes most health hazards.

ILRI and partners recognise the roles played by both the informal and formal dairy sectors and have long been advocating for policies that support the harmonious coexistence of the two sectors and their further development in the medium term, while aiming for growth in the formal sector in the longer term.

The Kenya Smallholder Dairy Project
The highly successful Kenyan Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP) was jointly implemented by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). SDP carried out research and development activities to support sustainable improvements to the livelihoods of poor Kenyans through their participation in the dairy sub-sector. Learn more about Kenya’s unique dairy industry through a series of briefs produced by SDP.

SDP Policy Brief 1

SDP Policy Brief 2

SDP Policy Brief 3

SDP Policy Brief 4

SDP Policy Brief 5

SDP Policy Brief 6

SDP Policy Brief 7

SDP Policy Brief 8

SDP Policy Brief 9

SDP Policy Brief 10

SDP was led by the Ministry with primary funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). SDP worked with many collaborators, including government and regulatory bodies, the private sector and civil society organizations. By combining the research capacity of KARI and ILRI with the experience and networks of the Ministry, SDP provided high-quality and wide-ranging research information to support smallholder dairy farmers, market agents, stakeholders and policy-makers from 1997 to 2005.
For more information go to the SDP website at www.smallholderdairy.org