USAID/Land O'Lakes Malawi dairy program draws kudos from Clinton

In early August, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group (MBG) in Malawi. Lumbadzi MBG is one of 23 dairy producer groups that Land O’Lakes International Development assisted during its recently completed Malawi Dairy Development Alliance (MDDA), a 5-year public-private alliance funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“For the past decade, the United States has been supporting Malawi’s dairy sector, including this center. And thanks to (Lumbadzi’s) work and the support we have given you, Malawi’s milk production has increased 500 percent,” Clinton said.

Lumbadzi has 206 farmer-members, more than half of whom are women. Through a heifer pass-on program, which was a part of the USAID/Land O’Lakes program, Lumbadzi’s farmers have received 89 purebred cattle since 2005. Farmers also benefited from a wide array of training programs that helped improve their productivity and milk yields.

The $5.7-million MDDA program helped reduce poverty and hunger for about 14,000 individuals by enabling farmers to form into MBGs, such as Lumbadzi, where they could access credit, inputs and markets. The program also made 1,600 cows available to farmers and provided thousands of individuals with training to improve animal care and feeding.

During the program, more than 4,000 people adopted new farming technologies and management practices, including fodder conservation, to help get them through the dry season. Of the 23 MBGs, seven now have formally established themselves as cooperatives.

As a result of MDDA, incomes increased 41 percent for the 3,400 smallholder farmers now connected to the value chain.

At the Lumbadzi event, Clinton announced the U.S. would be investing an additional $46 million into agricultural value chains. She also presented the members of the Lumbadzi group with a purebred dairy bull and inaugurated a liquid nitrogen network to help dairy farmers continue improving their herd through improved breeding.

Clinton also praised the impact MBGs have had on improving HIV/AIDS awareness. “I’m proud to see the partnership with PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), so people also can receive HIV testing and counseling services here.”

Through MDDA, Land O’Lakes worked to raise awareness through the MBG structures, reaching over 16,700 farmers. In addition, MDDA worked with 17 of the 23 MBGs, including Lumbadzi, to donate 15,000 liters of fresh milk to 27 feeding programs for nearly 3,500 orphans and vulnerable children.

Land O’Lakes also is working in other parts of Malawi through a new Food for Progress program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program will assist 51,000 severely food-insecure farmers, particularly women, to learn best practices for raising small livestock and producing rice and cassava.

Posted 8/23/12