Improving women’s participation in dairying: Lessons from the East Africa Dairy Development Project

AgriGender 2011 logo The East African Dairy Development (EADD) project, implemented by Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre and the African Breeders Service Total Cattle Management, works to improve the lives of one million smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Started in 2008, the EADD project employs a ‘hub’ approach, in which farmers organize themselves in cooperative groups to pool resources and buy milk-cooling facilities. These facilities also provide services for improved animal breeds and fodder and offer farmers training in milk management practices. The project has successfully increased incomes for dairy farmers—including many women—in rural areas of East Africa.

The experiences of the project in working with women in the dairy value chain were shared by ILRI agricultural economist Isabelle Baltenweck in an on-going workshop on ‘Gender and Market-oriented Agriculture: From Research to Action’ (#AgriGender2011) being held this week at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The EADD project is driven by the collective action of farmers who come together in these hubs, which help them collect and bulk milk. Most of these hubs centre on milk chilling plants set up by funds contributed by farmers themselves with additional support from the project.

The project also supports the participating farmers with feeds and animal health services. Other actors in the milk business, such as milk transporters and hardware suppliers, soon form around these hubs, which helps to create dynamic dairy value chains.

This “hub approach”, says Baltenweck, has led to improved access to inputs and services for women and other smallholders; it has brought services closer to the dairy producers, and given them access to credit and obtained better milk prices for them. ‘However,’ she adds, ‘women’s participation in the chain is still much lower than men’s.’

‘More male- than female-headed households have joined the hubs, even though a large number of spouses in many male-headed households have registered,’ says Baltenweck. ‘And we are finding that women household heads are making less use of animal health, feed and breed improvement services than male household heads, which is likely to lead to lower milk yields and income for the women.’

The project implementers are working to address this gap in women’s participation. A new strategy aiming to put more women on the front lines of the project should lead to more women joining extension work, including working as trainers and helping to make decisions in hub budgeting and operations.

This strategy is already yielding fruit. More women are now taking up leadership positions in the hubs and in related services in the project sites. The project partners are also focusing on improving hub governance and encouraging more women to participate in hub management and operations.

View the presentation:

West Africa’s regional livestock trade

Regional livestock trade in West Africa is suffering due to lack of policy integration and illegal cross-border “taxes”.

Livestock trade policies differ widely between countries in West Africa. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are livestock exporting countries, and want to strengthen livestock marketing and processing and promote regional trade. Livestock importing countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, promote policies that protect local livestock producers, boost internal production, and ensure food security in livestock products. A recently released report investigating livestock policies in six West African countries has urged that regional policies be streamlined, harmonised and implemented in a coordinated way to avoid bureaucratic bottlenecks. The report also noted that transportation of livestock across borders and illegal “taxes” represent significant additional marketing costs that impact negatively on regional livestock trade.

  • In West Africa, cross-border transportation can cost a staggering 300% more than the equivalent transfer of beef from Europe to West Africa’s coast. Meantime, regional cross-border transfer of cattle costs twice as much as domestic transportation, despite better transportation infrastructures.
  • Intra-regional trade in live animals attracts certain costs which are unlikely to be incurred if meat products are traded. For example, livestock drovers (people who drive herds of animals to market) are paid handling fees during the 2-3 day trip.
  • Some governments in the region are not fully committed to the implementation of agreed trade policy reforms concerning trade liberalisation and facilitation, exchange and payments systems and investment facilitation. This negatively affects costs of livestock trade and regional integration.
  • Illegal road taxation at numerous checkpoints can be as much as 10% of total marketing costs. Here, traders are required to make non-receipted payments to public agents for no obvious reason (see box below)
Illegal “taxes” at checkpoints hurt regional livestock trade

Numerous checkpoints exist along the highways where non-receipted payments are systematically made to police, customs, veterinary and other officials per truckload of cattle.

    Along the main cross-border trading routes, the checkpoints at Ferkessedougou and Bouake, both in Côte d’Ivoire, have the most notorious reputation, harbouring up to three different agents, namely: police, customs and gendarmerie. The checkpoint in Zegua, Mali is also reputed for frequent payments made to officials. Depending on the itinerary, total non-receipted payments can range from 12,000 FCFA on the Bittou to Accra route to 71,000 FCFA from Sikasso to Abidjan, translating respectively to 1.7 and 10.5% of cross-border marketing costs for cattle in the two routes. Illegal “taxes” between Sikasso to Abidjan are nearly twice as high as the government imposed fuel taxes for the same route.

Abolishing illegal cross border “taxes” would result in significant cost reductions and minimisation of delays that lead to deteriorating cattle health and sometimes death.

Recommendations include:

  • Protocols on regional livestock trade and regional integration introduced by the Union Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (UEMOA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), need to be streamlined, harmonised and implemented.
  • Regional livestock trade should shift its current focus from live animals to meat.
  • Regulations that provide for the free movement of people and goods in the region should be implemented by reducing the number of roadside checkpoints, curbing the excesses of conveyance companies (sociétés de convoyage), and actively fighting illegal road taxation.

Report and Briefs

The full report and a set of four briefs are now available for download.

Read the complete Improvement of Livestock Marketing and Regional Trade in West Africa report:

Brief 1: Marketing livestock in West Africa: Opportunities and constraints: Brief 1  T.O. Williams, I. Okike, I. Baltenweck and C. Delgado.

This brief summarises the discussions and major outputs from a regional workshop held in Niamey, Niger in 1999. The objective was to analyse the economic, institutional and policy constraints to livestock marketing and trade in order to provide a basis for new policy interventions to improve market efficiency and intra-regional livestock trade.

Read the complete brief:

Brief 2: Livestock marketing channels, flows and prices in West Africa: Brief 2. I. Okike, T.O. Williams, B. Spycher, S. Staal and I. Baltenweck

Livestock markets that are strategically located along the border of neighbouring countries to ease cross-border trade were studied to identify livestock marketing channels from farm gates to terminal markets. Economic operators and livestock flows within these channels were also examined along with seasonal variations and other factors affecting livestock prices. The findings indicate that producers and operators can realise significant economic benefits by increasing meat production and livestock trade value through improved credit access and better market information.

Read the complete brief:

Brief 3: Lowering cross-border livestock transportation and handling costs in West Africa: Brief 3. I. Okike, B. Spycher, T.O. Williams and I. Baltenweck

This brief analyses the costs incurred in the transfer of animals through the marketing chain and highlights areas where costs could be reduced for example, intra-regional trade in live animals attracts certain types of costs which are unlikely to be incurred if meat products, rather than live animals, are traded.

Read the complete brief:

Brief 4: Promoting livestock marketing and intraregional trade in West Africa: Brief 4   I. Okike, T.O. Williams and I. Baltenweck

Livestock trade has the potential to contribute even more to foreign exchange earnings if properly promoted. The major economic, institutional and policy barriers to the realisation of the full potentials of livestock trade are identified in this brief.

Read the complete brief: