Small-scale farmers in developing countries have not benefitted much from the rise in global dairy consumption. This is because they aren’t able to sell enough of their dairy on the formal market, where the greatest opportunities lie. With investments, small-scale farmers can produce high-quality milk and broaden their sales market. This helps provide a more stable family income, as well as improved food safety, sustainability and animal welfare.


The growing demand for dairy poses challenges in developing countries. In order to become self-sufficient and limit imports from Western countries, dairy farmers need to be able to comply with the high quality and sustainability standards of the formal market.

Raw milk in developing countries is of a poor quality, which carries food safety risks. There is a lack of expertise on refrigeration, and also insufficient volumes and capital to gain it. There’s also much room for improvements in hygiene during milking and transportation. Quality controls are inadequate and this has direct consequences on public health. Volatile markets, technological gaps and a shortage of expertise all limit the dairy sector.

Dairy production places high demands on land and animals, and has environmental repercussions. Milk processing is water intensive, and inefficient production results in a relatively high level of water use and CO2 emissions per kilo of milk. Average production levels are far below the genetic potential of the cows, particularly when local breeds have already been cross-bred with more productive animals. Dairy production is often focused just on household use and sales on the local market, which means many resources and a lot of the milk produced go to waste.

Meeting increased demand for high-quality dairy products by increasing exports from Western countries is a short-term solution. In the longer term, countries need to increase production and improve the safety and reliability of their milk, leading to higher local incomes and greater food security. This requires professionalization along the entire chain involving farmers, national and international supply chain partners, and governments.



The position of family farms will only change if the supply chain changes. We bring supply chain actors and farmers together and encourage them to come up with innovative solutions. We also support farmers as they work to produce more and better milk, from refrigeration to processing, including a focus on improving input services and government interventions.

Efficient farm management is the foundation of sustainability within family farms. It not only has positive implications for income, gender and food safety, but also has environmental benefits such as less spoilage and reduction of CO2 emissions. Improving sustainability also requires us to look beyond cattle breeds and feed. Animal health and vaccinations, the provision of sufficient clean drinking water and housing all need to be considered.

Our goal is to build a long-term relationship between companies in the formal market and the family farms. Competing with international imported milk will enable developing countries to become self-sufficient in this sector. This is good for farmers, but also has positive economic impacts on the country as a whole. Our programmes try to improve the quality systems of these small businesses. By investing in refrigeration technologies and input supply, small-scale farmers can comply with the quality standards of the formal market and participate in the production chain.