Transforming Tanzania’s Dairy Sector: SAGCOT’s Strategic Approach to Empowering Smallholder Farmers

A quiet revolution is taking place in the lush landscapes of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. Through the efforts of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), the Dairy Value Chain Strategic Partnership is making significant strides in transforming the dairy sector and improving the lives of smallholder farmers.

A Strategic Vision for Growth
The partnership, which brings together private and public stakeholders, aims to boost the national dairy industry currently dominated by small-scale operations. “Tanzania has significant dairy livestock resources, which have the potential to transform the lives and incomes of smallholder farmers along the value chain,” states the SAGCOT brochure. Despite this potential, the country’s dairy industry remains small, with the majority of milk consumed locally and only a fraction reaching the commercial market.

Addressing Challenges Through Collaboration
The brochure highlights several key challenges, including low milk production from local breeds (typically 1-3 liters per animal per day) and the predominance of informal milk business practices. SAGCOT’s initiative seeks to formalize these operations and enhance production capabilities. “The majority of the dairy processing factories are processing below their capacity. Through the Dairy Value Chain Partnership, smallholder farmers’ engagement is improving to ensure a sustainable sourcing of high-quality raw milk and ensure the factories operate at full capacity,” the document explains.

Empowering Farmers and Enhancing Nutrition
A cornerstone of the partnership’s strategy is to empower farmers by linking them directly to the value chain, thus supporting food security and nutrition. The initiative not only seeks to increase the supply of nutrient-rich milk products but also involves comprehensive solutions that encompass all stakeholders in the dairy value chain—from farmers to processors.

Environmental and Economic Sustainability
The partnership also prioritizes environmental sustainability. It promotes the use of biogas and soil improvement practices using cow manure, which enhances soil health and helps manage waste. This approach supports the broader goals of responsible resource management and environmental stewardship.

As SAGCOT continues to facilitate this strategic partnership, the focus remains on expanding the reach to more farmers and regions, enhancing technological adoption, and improving the genetics of local breeds to increase milk yield. “The Dairy Value Chain Partnership is working closely with smallholders to support their entry into the production process,” the brochure notes, emphasizing the initiative’s inclusive approach.

With ongoing efforts and strategic partnerships, Tanzania’s dairy sector is poised for transformation. This promises a future where smallholder farmers play a pivotal role in a more robust and sustainable agricultural economy.

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