15 July 2014 zichtbaarzijn

By Silja Heyland

Ethiopia_dairyWomen are highly involved in dairy production, but they are mostly not recognized as dairy farmers. Often women have limited access to credit, markets and business development services.

Agri-ProFocus and Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services (Angelica Senders) commissioned a study by Silja K. Heyland, student of International Development Management at Van Hall Larenstein Wageningen, on how gender-inclusion improves commercial dairy supply chains in the global south.

The research objective was to find attractive arguments for local business chain actors to address gender issues in their dairy supply chains and to give an overview of chain interventions that contribute to successful gender-inclusion. The research focuses on small-scale dairy farmers and their producer organizations, since this level gives an indication of who benefits and in which way from dairy chain development.

Eight semi-structured interviews have been conducted over Skype. Examples are the East African Dairy Development project led by Heifer International, the dairy business project led by SNV in Ethiopia, or CARE Bangladesh’s dairy value chain project in Bangladesh. The different projects show a diversity of circumstances from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and present different activities to work on gender-inclusion.
Detailed project descriptions show insights of women’s and men’s activities, to what extend benefits are shared within the family and which activities contributed to a change of the previous situations. The research presents an overview of reasons why it is business wise to address women in dairy chain development. In this blog the 5 arguments most commonly mentioned are listed:

  1. Women are active milk suppliers and their groups supply the same or more milk than men groups (confirmed by Bangladesh, Ethiopia, East Africa, Kenya, India). Measured through: End-line evaluation, applying a gender lens in producer organization, household survey and measurements of self-help groups.
  2. Women (groups) strongly contribute to good milk quality and hygienic handling (confirmed by Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nicaragua, India). Measured through: Quality-based payment system, introduction of lactometer, measurement of temperature and bacterial testing, and establishing a quality monitoring system.
  3. Producer organizations perform best with a female leader (confirmed by Bangladesh, Kenya, Nicaragua). Measured through: Measuring performances of different gender compositions, elected female cooperative leader and elected female cooperative union leader.
  4. Addressing the right target group with interventions shows better results (confirmed by Ethiopia, East Africa, Kenya, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, India). Measured through: Processors need to address women, loyal milk supplier and more hygienic, higher milk volumes and better milk quality
  5. Women participation/leadership positions increase the number of participants (confirmed by East Africa, Kenya, Afghanistan, India, Ethiopia). Measured through: Big spill-over effect/ Women attract other women to join, women are leadership positions or in a committee

Analysing the different projects shows that women’s situation as dairy farmer is often under-recognized. Their dairy activities are crucial for hygiene and milk quality. Applying gender-inclusive interventions is effective and contributes to an increase in milk volume and better milk quality. This enables farming families to address new (formal) markets in which milk prices are higher. Successful approaches make women visible as dairy farmers and include them in farmer organizations. This is shown in the example of Afghanistan were the number of registered women tripled, in Bangladesh were 67 per cent of the leadership positions are taken by women and the overall development that women become cooperative or cooperative union presidents. See many more interventions and strategies in the report.

Projects report that when the family income increases more children are sent to school and the families nutrition improves, which effects may lower urban migration. Which chain activities are most effective differs between the locations (even within one country).

All projects report that through the interventions women receive more respect from their husbands, and their self-esteem and confidence increased. Families’ collaboration and joint decision-making contributes to better business for companies and dairy farmer’s families involved in the value chain.

Read the full version of the thesis here
Follow the forum discussion on this topic
Cartoon: Women key for succesfull dairy value chains

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