The Society leads Phase II of the Malawi Dairy Growth (MDG) project with the support of JOA. The project works through implementing partner the Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association (SHMPA), a dairy farmers association with over 10,000 members, accounting for over 90% of milk produced in Malawi. We provide SHMPA’s team with technical and management support aimed at improving their farmers’ productivity and incomes, and expanding the reach of Jersey genetics in the Malawian dairy cattle population. Project activities include training, extension support (such as healthcare, feed, and breeding services), and policy engagement with the public and private sector.
The current project is a follow up to a first phase (2018-2021), which trained over 7,000 farmers in cattle health and fertility management and built the capacity of 38 SHMPA field staff with training and upgraded equipment. The impact of this work was reflected in a reduction of over 60 days in average calving interval in the SHMPA herd, saving an individual farmer $2 per day or an annual saving of $120 per year. SHMPA also operates a cow loan scheme for vulnerable women farmers, which has so far supported over 1,000 farmers to establish a viable dairy enterprise.
The Society oversees a four-year project (2020-24) in Ethiopia, funded by JOA and in partnership with Project Mercy Inc. The project aims to promote and integrate the Jersey breed into smallholder farming practices in the Amhara region, to increase the quality and quantity of milk produced, consumed, and sold, with a focus on female headed households. Through creating awareness of the Jersey breed, farmer and extension worker training, and a community breeding programme, we hope to increase the incomes and food security prospects of approximately 4,500 smallholder farmers and their families. Data gathered through this project will also support the Society’s regional work with CTLGH and Pan Livestock, building knowledge on the most desirable cattle traits for smallholder dairy farmers in the East African region.
The Society’s newest Dairy for Development project is in Zambia, with the support of implementing partner ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) and the Government of the Republic of Zambia Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MFL). The project's aim is to sustainably improve smallholder farmers' livelihoods, resilience, and dairy productivity in Chombo, Chongwe, and Choma districts. The project is a three-year initiative (2022 – 25), also funded by JOA, targeting over 8,000 beneficiaries whose dairy productivity will be increased in part through the use of Jersey breed genetics. The project also intends to increase farmers' productivity by adopting improved husbandry practices and extension service delivery. To further enhance learning and knowledge sharing, the project plans to develop a dairy-focused management and information system to support the development of dairy breeding strategies and policies.
The Society’s connection to Rwanda dates back to 2004, when a Government of Rwanda delegation visited Jersey to discuss a collaborative effort to strengthen dairy production through the use of Jersey cattle genetics. In the following years (2005-09), the Society would support Rwanda through provision of Jersey semen for cross-breeding with the predominant local breed (the Ankole), and training of over 370 Artificial Insemination (AI) technicians. Dairy production would expand rapidly, supported by the Government of Rwanda’s Girinka programme, which by 2017 had provided over 340,000 farmers with a dairy cow.
In 2016, the Society partnered with Ripple Effect (then known as Send a Cow), an international NGO working with over 10,000 low-income farmers in Rwanda, to design a project that could reach smallholder dairy producers with training and technical support at scale. This two-year project (2017-19), Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA)'s first ever multi-year £1m+ grant, would expand awareness of the Jersey breed, greatly increase access to AI services, and increase milk production among beneficiary farmers by 50%. The project's second phase (2019-22), worked with an expanded group of partners including the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) of Edinburgh University, and Pan Livestock of Reading University. Phase II launched a national cattle database, and also continued the work with smallholder farmers, providing training and extension services.
Currently, the Society is working with RAB on a two-year feasibility study exploring opportunities for development of the RAB Songa Station, located in southern Rwanda, into a centre for excellence in dairy cattle breeding.