A project that brings together an Italian milk co-operative and communities in Tanzania was awarded first prize at the Expo 2015 event in Milan.
The Africa Milk Project (AMP) partners the Italian civil society organisation CEFA with Italy’s largest milk co-operative, Granarolo. It won the prize for ‘Sustainable development of small rural communities in marginal areas’ for its efforts in the dairy production chain in Njombe, Tanzania, along with the local producer organisation Njombe Livestock Farmers Association (NjoLiFa). The theme of this year’s Expo was Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.
Founded in 2004, the project has been hailed as an example of how commercially-based production can help transform the livelihoods of poor, rural households.
AMP has helped reduce malnutrition and raise farmer income as well as awareness of the importance of dairy for the Tanzanian diet. The enterprise introduced a milk for school programme, which has provided 24,000 pupils with pasteurised milk. 76% of the children now drink milk everyday and been credited as an indirect cause of improving school attendance.
Now a profitable business, Granarolo, NjoLiFa, the town and district councils, and the local church diocese all hold shares in the enterprise. The factory reached break-even point in 2011 and has expanded to produce and sell milk, yoghurt, caciotta, mozzarella and provolone cheeses in the larger market of Dar es Salaam and beyond.
But challenges still remain. There is a limited market in Njombe – a town of 45,000 inhabitants – while the main market of Dar es Salaam is around 700km away. Njombe’s location also makes it difficult to attract skilled staff.
However, the success of AMP at helping rural populations improve production techniques has been hailed as a milestone in the relationships between co-operatively run enterprises and commercial businesses.