Pastoral dairying in Eastern Africa: how could Europe support it?

  • 02nd June 2018
  • by secretary

1 June 2018. On World Milk Day, CELEP launched its latest statement on pastoral dairying in Eastern Africa. 

Most pastoral development interventions focus on meat production. Greater emphasis on dairying could improve human nutrition in the drylands and strengthen pastoralist women’s role as traditional managers of milk and innovators in dairy marketing. 

The CELEP brief “Pastoral dairying in Eastern Africa: how could Europe support it?” (2018, 6pp) reviews documents about dairy development in the region. It looks into the differences between formal and informal milk markets, including evidence concerning food safety. It draws attention to the specificities of pastoral dairying, which call for a different development approach in the drylands than in the highlands. T

The review investigates the potential contribution of pro-poor dairy development to women’s empowerment and wider food security. After considering the potentials and constraints in pastoral dairy development, CELEP offers recommendations regarding European policies and development interventions in this sector in Eastern Africa. These recommendations include:

  1. The need to highlight the value of pastoralism.
  2. The importance of recognising the role of women in pastoral dairying.
  3. The pivotal role of pastoralist CSOs.
  4. The underlying importance of adapted milk standards.
  5. The need for adapted infrastructure.
  6. The importance of sustainable coherence for development.

Most dairy “development” projects to collect, process, package and distribute milk deal with men, and rob women of their power within the pastoralist society and economy. More research into how the existing dairy value chains in the drylands benefit pastoralists and consumers would provide a better evidence base for this recognition and help identify entry points for collaboration. (page 5)

Pressure to meet the Western standards and to ban informal milk marketing comes mainly from large-scale corporate dairy firms in the formal sector. These interests can work against more effective and inclusive policies for dairy development13. Strengthening pastoralist CSOs and milk trader associations can help to bring their perspectives into the policy arena and to counter these vested interests. (page 6)

Instead of trying to enforce unattainable standards that would push smallholders, pastoralists and actors out of business or even into illegality, it is necessary to develop standards that reflect the situation and needs of small-scale producers and the mass of consumers.  (page 6)

Protective dairy policy in Europe has favoured dairy exports to Africa. Milk powder repackaging and reconstitution facilities are central to the African investment plans of numerous European dairy firms. Imports of milk powder can help fill the gap in domestic milk supply but undermine the value chains based on locally produced milk and the efforts to develop these value chains. (page 6) 

The EU should facilitate discussion about responsible patterns of EU trade and investment in the dairy sector in Africa to support development of dairy value chains from milk produced locally by smallholders and pastoralists, rather than from re-constituted imported milk powder. (page 6)

12-13-14 octobre 2018. La 13ème édition du Festival du Film « Pastoralismes et Grands Espaces » aura lieu les  au Cinéma Le Club (9bis rue du Phalanstère, Grenoble)

1er Juin 2018, Journée Internationale du lait, les producteurs et productrices de lait, du Burkina Faso, du Mali, de la Mauritanie, du Niger, du Sénégal et du Tchad, accompagnés d’une large coalition composée d’organisations paysannes, de consommateurs et consommatrices, de chercheurs et chercheuses, d’ONG, de mini-laiteries, d’industriels locaux, lancent une campagne de défense et de promotion du lait local.

In late March 2018, CELEP – in collaboration with Oxfam – organised a learning tour on small-scale dairying in Kenya for a delegation from three West African countries: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.