Supporting Smallholder Dairy Farmers with Reliable and Sustainable Animal Feed

In Nigeria, smallholder dairy farmers depend on their livestock for income & financial sustainability. However, steady access to nutritious feed all year round for cattle remains a significant challenge for many of them.

Many setbacks affect local dairy farmers, one of which is climate change, which manifests as unpredictable weather patterns & drought leading to lack of suitable grazing grounds for animals. Secondly, the security challenges plaguing the country also contribute adversely to the traditional pastoralist lifestyle where farmers move beyond state borders with their cattle in search of animal feed.

The Advancing Local Dairy Development Programme in Nigeria is dedicated to empowering smallholder dairy farmers by improving their productivity, increasing their household income and integrating them into the formal dairy sector via linkages with indigenous dairy processors. Without reliable local milk production, dairy processors would be forced to look towards the importation of milk products.

Meet Nura and Obinna, the young experts at Sahel Consulting working to implement innovative strategies and models to support smallholder dairy farmers to feed their animals sustainably and securely.

How do they do it?

Sahel Consulting put the group that mattered most at the center of its approach in tackling this challenge- The Farmers!

Farmer self-help groups within intervention communities were mobilized to provide suitable land to be used to grow fodder. These plots served as demonstration plots for hands-on practical demonstrations on good pasture farming practices to achieve maximum yield.

In addition to capacity building, Sahel Consulting provided the necessary input, labor, and other costs to clear the land, plant, harvest, bale, and store the yield. This will then be sold to dairy farmers around the community.

These processes are done in collaboration with the self-help groups resident in the communities. This feed and fodder supply system is working to make available high-quality feed at an affordable price, thereby increasing the productivity of the animals.

Lessons learned

  • Capacity building of smallholder farmers on good agronomic practices is key to ensuring optimum yield of feed and fodder.
  • Developing and empowering self-help group-led initiatives is key to the sustainable economic empowerment of smallholder farmers.
  • Formalizing relationships between farmers using agreements and contracts is key to helping smallholder farmers gain more value and inclusion in the feed and fodder value chain.
  • This collaborative process serves as a proof of concept for community members, and also to private companies to view the feed and fodder industry as a viable and profitable venture.
  • There is a need for fodder companies to work closely with research institutes to develop and identify resistant fodder varieties.

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