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Milk and its derivatives become big business in Tanzania

Innovation / -

Il latte pastorizzato conquista la Tanzania

A partnership between Granarolo, Cefa and livestock farmers in the Njombe district of Tanzania has spawned the creation of Njombe Milk Factory, a company spanning the entire supply chain that also promotes milk drinking in schools, becoming an economic bedrock and drawing attention to food safety.

Take the mountainous Njombe District in southern Tanzania, where dairy farms are not utilised to their full potential. Add a company in northern Italy with experience throughout the milk supply chain. Put the two together and the result is an international project. A partnership between Granarolo, Cefa and the livestock farmers' association NjoLIFA has led to the establishment of Njombe Milk Factory (NMF), a profit-making concern that employs Tanzanian workers in the collection, testing, processing and sale of milk. The company also produces cheese and yoghurt, which are sold in major stores nationwide. Owing to the lack of real market competition and the efforts of its 30-strong workforce, NMF is leading the country in terms of the quality and excellence of its products. The business aims to provide children with high-quality milk in order to effectively combat stunted growth caused by malnutrition.
 
Pasteurisation makes the difference
For the past seven years or more, 800 livestock farmers have brought over 3000 litres of milk to the factory every day. The factory's workers have become specialised in the production chain and are paid a stable wage every 15 days. This programme was developed in several stages. First and foremost, its greatest innovation is the introduction of pasteurisation, which was not previously part of the production process; quality levels were therefore not as high in the past and bacteria was an ever-present menace. In addition, the low pricing policy has discouraged consumers from buying powdered or imported milk, which is available in the country but not within everyone's budget.
NMF has successfully created a "Milk in Schools" initiative that sells milk in 58 local schools once a week at reduced price, subsidised by a portion of the company's profits. This ensures access to a product that is essential for the growth of 25,000 children. The company uses leftover milk to produce yoghurt as well as caciotta, mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Whey, a by-product of cheese production, is also used to make ricotta, or is skimmed and given away as pig feed. 
 
Continuous growth of up to 140%
According to research by Roma Tre University, the income of the 800 livestock farmers has soared by 140% in three years. The families can now afford to buy additional cattle or set aside money for their children's school fees. Meanwhile, the workers' fortnightly wage allows them to start saving for the future.
According to teachers in the district, the Milk in Schools initiative has improved their pupils' academic performance and attendance records.
NMF is currently a public limited company with annual revenues of over 500,000 euros and its shareholders are the livestock farmers and beneficiaries themselves. The future objective is to try to develop a training course to teach families how to process organic waste and produce their own biogas. In order to continue the success of the Milk in Schools initiative, the state government has distributed cattle to encourage livestock farming in other areas, as well as promoting a National Milk Day.
 
 

Five questions for Cefa and Granarolo. Dairy producers are gaining their independence in Tanzania

Innovation / -

La produzione di latte pastorizzato inizia in Tanzania
© Diego Zanetti

A success story, using Italian experience to help farmers in Tanzania – who from now on, are going it alone. The NGO is the Italian company that supported the Njombe Milk Factory, and which is going to explain its experience to us.

At Expo Milano 2015, visitors will be made aware of the Cefa and Granarolo project thanks to the video screened in Pavilion Zero. What message would you like to convey with your approach to the issue of food security?
A project that aims at food security must be sustainable, that is, long-lasting. It was possible to build a lasting system that enabled the distribution of pasteurized milk in Tanzania thanks to the training of workers or other beneficiaries with tutoring in Italian companies in the industry. Before this, people only drank unprocessed - at most it would be boiled - or powdered milk, which would only be for the wealthy. The Njombe Milk Factory also enable an increase in variety of dairy products, with the introduction of yogurt and cheese to the market.

What difficulties have you encountered while working on your project?
Njombe, a remote area in southern Tanzania, lacked technical expertise in dairy and in its marketing before the start of the program. To commit farmers to daily milk delivery, a fortnightly payment was chosen. It was not a strategy designed at the desk, but it was made necessary following the development of the program in the field: first, for the 800 farmers in particular, it was impossible to a plan costs, as selling milk in the street brought a few shillings a day. Now, as well as meeting daily expenses, they can also set aside money for their children’s school fees.

Since the submission date, what new results have you achieved?
An 11 kilowatt (kwp) photovoltaic system, which covers the company’s administrative offices and cold storage needs, was recently installed. A part of the discarded milk from processing (500 litres per day) is given to pig farms. With the “Milk for Schools” program, the district has enabled a provincial law, putting Njombe Milk Factory milk on the lunch menu, so other children can drink pasteurized, and therefore safe, milk. There is a new face at the dairy: Kam Tande, 35, has been hired as head of production and will soon be in Bologna, in Granarolo, for a two-month internship.
 
 
What developments do you expect in the long term for your idea?
If self-development really is required for this company, the “umbilical cord must be cut” from the Italian supporters so that it can walk with “Tanzanian legs”. In order to reach this important milestone (also thanks to the current partner-beneficiaries of the company - Njombe Livestock Farmers Association, Njombe Catholic Diocese, Njombe District Council, Njombe Town Council) Granarolo and CEFA met some possible local industrial partners, to whom the completion of the corporate structure of the company was proposed, to endow it with local technical skills. They have been asked to stay faithful to the social purpose of Njombe Milk Factory, being that some of the profits continue to be used for community support activities (“Milk for Schools”). 
 
Do you intend to replicate the project in other countries or in other contexts?
There is a lot of entrepreneurial interest around the Njombe Milk Factory and a few requests have arrived from Ghana and Tanzania asking to copy the Njombe Milk model. Beyond the project, whoever believed in this “miracle” is convinced that there are advantages that have made a real difference and the most important were: encouraging the direct involvement and responsibility of beneficiaries, promoting gender equality in production and project management, encouraging the growth of the shareholder membership base and strengthening the sustainability of the results. 
 

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