US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an expansion of a US government investment in a co-operative dairy programme in Malawi.
The announcement was made at Lumbazi Milk Bulking Group (MBG), one of 23 dairy producers assisted by the Malawi Dairy Development Alliance (MDDA) run by co-operative Land O’Lakes International Development.
The US Government will invest an additional US$46 million into agricultural value chains. Lumbazi MBG is not currently a co-operative, but it is expected to set up as one. Of the 23 MBGs, seven have now formally established themselves as co-operatives.
Secretary Clinton said: “For the past decade, the United States has been supporting Malawi’s dairy sector, including this centre. And thanks to [Lumbadzi’s] work and the support we have given you, Malawi’s milk production has increased 500 percent.”
The MDDA project is a five year-public-private alliance enabled by the US Agency for International Development. During the event, Mrs Clinton provided the members of the Lumbadzi group with a pure-bred dairy bull named Emanuel, and inaugurated a liquid nitrogen network to help the dairy farmers continue improving their herd through improved breeding.
Lumbadzi has 206 farmer-members, more than half of whom are women. Through a heifer pass-on program, which was a part of the USAID/Land O’Lakes MDDA program, Lumbadzi’s farmers received 89 pure bred cattle since 2005. Farmers also benefited from a wide array of training programs that helped them improve their productivity and milk yields.
In total, the US$5.7 million MDDA program helped reduce poverty and hunger for some 14,000 individuals, by enabling farmers to form into bulk groups such as Lumbadzi, where they could access credit, inputs and markets.
The programme made 1,600 cows available to farmers and provided thousands with training to improve animal care and feeding. More than 4,000 people adopted new farming technologies and management practices, including fodder conservation to help get them through the dry season.
Since the programme started, smallholder milk production exceeded 15 million litres. Over 70 percent of that milk reached processors. For 3,400 smallholder farmers now connected to the value chain, their incomes increased an average of 41 percent during the five-year programme.
Land O’Lakes is working in other parts of Malawi through a new Food for Progress program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. In two eastern districts of Central Malawi, Land O’Lakes will assist 51,000 severely food insecure farmers, particularly women, to learn best practices for raising small livestock and producing rice and cassava.