Cows at 2nd farm

In May 2008, Rick and Wendy visited the TechnoServe-Nicaragua office where they learned about the Dairy Program operated in collaboration with CARE and UNAN Leon (Universidad Nacional de Autonoma aka National University of Independence, in Leon, Nicaragua). CARE was particularly focused on supporting/implementing gender, water, environment and monitoring and evaluation of the program.  UNAN Leon was using its university staff for technical assistance, training and testing the new processes and production. Part of the technology assistance was to help farmers  deal with a seven-month dry season by gaining water access through harvested collection and water stations on pastures.  TechnoServe provided overall coordination as well as better grazing inputs (sugar cane and concentrated legumes) including minerals and vitamins; tree seedlings to allow shade for grazers and prevent soil erosion; and business training and guidance through eight on-site visits per year.

The Dairy Program’s goals were to increase the whole value chain’s efficiency to improve profits for all links; engage more women in all stages; and improve the environmental impact at all levels.  Over the three years of the project, the Dairy Program was expected to assist 1,700 small and medium farmers involved in raising pasture-grazing dairy cattle to:

  • Generate US$615.00 per family in yearly profit by the end of year 2;
  • Develop business plans to improve environmental responsibility;
  • Plant 6,000 more hectares in feed crops;
  • Operate 12 milk collection centers with cooling tanks holding 3,000 to 4,000 liters of milk per day which will expand to 14 to 16 centers;
  • Expand to up to 24 wholesale or “collection” traders;
  • Enable farmer “clusters” (not co-operatives), each with its own informal leader, to become producer-owned and sustainable;.
  • Engage more women in cattle raising and dairy;
  • Broaden the cluster farmers’ market opportunities and allow higher, more consistent pricing with higher quality milk;
  • Increase milk sanitation at each step of the process;
  • Improve per cow milk production from 3 L. to 4 L. daily via more home-grown sugar-cane fodder and better inputs;
  • Utilize better animal gynecological and general medical care to enable cows to produce both more milk and more healthy calves for either milk production or sale as meat.

Over the project life, TNS helped each farmer become a business owner, each with the vision to run a whole-family-run business.

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