Knowledge for Development


Demand for dairy products in developing countries is increasing, and milk production contributes to household livelihoods, food security and nutrition. However, dairy productivity is limited by poor-quality feed resources, disease, poor access to markets and services and low genetic potential. Milk production in Africa is growing more slowly than elsewhere. Increasing efficiency and diversifying into new products have the potential to improve revenue and security within the agricultural supply chain. Entrepreneurial spirit is critical to taking on the challenges of dairy improvement. 

Improving dairy genetics and nutrition, and adapting artificial insemination (AI) and resource management to smallholder farms are priority issues. Dairy breeds can be improved through artificial insemination (AI), specifically through synchronising oestrus and consideration should be given to using indigenous cattle which are more tolerant to local conditions and can survive on local feedstock.

 In the article “Technology options for small-scale processing of milk, yoghurt and cheese” Peter Fellows discusses practical issues for expanding dairy processing with particular attention to quality assurance. Universities and research institutes and bureaux of standards in many ACP countries can provide guidance. Tailored research and development on products, equipment and facilities relevant to small and medium-scale dairy enterprise development would help the dairy industry deliver more value to farmers and customers. 

The documents and links section provides access to materials specifically related to the dairy industry in developing countries and also to development of new dairy technology in general.

This folder was prepared by CABI, KIT and CTA in April 2014. 

Image: East Africa Dairy Development (EADD), Nyala Dairy. Source:

Technology options for small-scale processing of milk, yoghurt and cheese

by Peter Fellows, Midway Associates, Derby, UK
Cultured milks, yoghurt and soft cheeses have been produced for thousands of years in some ACP countries, especially among African nomadic herding communities to preserve milk for home consumption and food security. Only recently has commercial dairy processing begun to produce pasteurised milk and hard cheeses arisen in ACP countries, as local demand increased. A lack of reliable ‘cold chains’ for transporting, storing and selling dairy products and a relatively high incidence of lactose intolerance in some populations limit expansion. Feasibility studies can be used to guide investment decisions of prospective dairy processors before making any investment decisions.  08/10/2014
There is need to improve the reproductive potential of dairy cattle owned by small-holder farmers as well as enhance earning potential. According to Paterson, the challenge for improving small-holder dairy production under communal systems is clear; introduce dairy genetics and supply the quantity and quality of feed to improve reproductive and yield potential. 03/02/2014

Development of ‘ENDIISA’ decision support tool for improved feeding of dairy cattle in Uganda

by Dr Sarah Lubanga Mubiru, Livestock and Fisheries Programme, ASARECA, Entebbe, Uganda
Despite existing knowledge and, in some instances, the appropriate use of feed resources, milk production on dairy farms has remained low in the ranges of 2–5 Lcow-1day-1. In her paper, Mubiru argues that this poor performance clearly points to a gap in farmers' knowledge regarding cattle feeding. Since farmers are unable to know the quantities of feeds needed to meet the nutritional requirements of their animals, they were only able to provide 59% and 36% of the required metabolisable energy and crude protein, respectively, to their animals. A mechanism was developed by which farmers could establish adequate feed quantities for their cattle, even when they are combining a variety of feeds. ‘ENDIISA' is the web-based decision support tool that was one of the major outputs of the author’s winning research submission. Read Dr Mubiru and the other papers in the booklet of abstracts of all winning papers. 17/08/2010
The Kenyan Dairy Board is promoting a new milk processing technology, which preserves milk for up to a month and is helping Kenyan dairy farmers to significantly reduce losses. The Dairy Board is providing loans to farmers to enable them to take advantage of the technology and has announced plans to purchase excess milk produced from farmers. The Extended Shelf Life (ESL) technology works by applying heat indirectly and reducing the levels of lactose. ESL has enabled farmers to sell a larger quantity of milk, by avoiding spoiling due to poor storage and preservation methods. Over 3,000 farmers in Kenya are now benefitting from this pilot project which is being implemented by the Limuru Dairy Farmers' Union. To expand the project, the Union is also partnering with banks, government agencies and dairy insurance companies.(Source: African Agriculture, 17 January 2011) 14/02/2011
More research on camel milk is needed to develop potentially valuable dairy products for marginalized communities in desert regions. This was one of the conclusions of the first international meeting on ‘Milk, factor of development’ (Rennes, France, in May 2014). Of the 10,000 studies of milk published each year, only about ten are devoted to camel milk.  Bernard Faye, a camel milk expert with CIRAD, France, argues that as a result little is known about the proteins in camel milk, which differ structurally from those in other milks, and consequently about methods to preserve it. Unlike cow milk, whose shelf life can be extended from weeks to months by sterilizing it using ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment, a similar process has yet to be found for camel milk.   (Rural 21, 21/06/2014) 02/09/2014
Scientists at the BBSRC Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS, UK) discovered that the molecules that give cut grass its distinctive 'green odour' kill off bacteria that convert healthy omega-3 fats into saturated fats in a  cow's gut. Milk contains a greater proportion of the healthy omega-3 fats in the summer than in the winter due most probably to the antimicrobial effects of the green odour compound from grass.       (BBSRC, 21/08/2013)     18/09/2013
Lia Bardoel, a Masters Student in Industrial Design from Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, presented her work on a solar cooling system for milk and the subsequent  studies she did on use of the system in remote areas. The cooling system sets out to improve the quality of evening milk and thus the income of the farmers. The solar powered system  makes ice at milk collection centres, which the farmer collects and brings home during the day to cool the evening milk before bringing it to the collection point the following day. The  system, developed at the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders project, is designed to work on solar and electricity grids. A video on this webpage explains in  more details how the cooling system works on the ground. 31/07/2013