Climate-smart dairy systems in East Africa

Improved forages and feeding strategies to increase productivity, nutrition, and adaptive capacity of smallholder livestock systems

Date: 02/2017 to 12/2020
Location: Tanzania, United Republic of, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda

Making the case: Meat and milk are a critical component of a balanced diet in East Africa and are vital to nutrition security, particularly for children. As a result of population growth and changing diets, the demand for meat and milk is rising quickly, presenting new opportunities for livestock producers. Mixed crop-livestock systems produce 70% of the meat and 90% of the milk in the region while also providing livelihoods for some 50 million of Africa’s rural poor. But currently, livestock systems of the East African highlands suffer from low productivity, are at risk from extreme weather, and are also hotspots for GHG emissions.

By numbers:

  • 50 million rural poor are involved in livestock production across Africa
  • 2/3s of agricultural GHG emissions come from smallholder livestock systems
  • Up to 40% more milk and tens of millions of dollars in revenue possible for East African dairy farmers adopting a new drought-resistant pasture grass, which can also reduce GHG emissions, and sequester CO2
  • 4 countries targeted: Tanzania and Rwanda, with learning exchanges with Kenya and Burundi
  • 7 IFAD programs are linked to the project, which will be scaled-up through the involvement of national extension systems


Innovation for impact:

The project goal is to design climate-smart dairy production through improved forages and feeding strategies that increase the incomes and resilience of smallholder farmers:

Assess: Map livestock systems, simulate feed production, increase livestock density, and increase efficiency.

Characterize: classify households and feeding systems to develop climate-smart options.

Design: Model climate-smart options and validate with farmer groups for suitability and ease of adoption.

Evaluate: Validate best-bet forage and management options in farmers’ fields.

Scale: Apply results through IFAD programs and other development partners. Strengthen capacity of regional agricultural programs through learning exchanges between Rwanda-Burundi and Tanzania-Kenya.

Bottom line:

Small-scale dairy producers, especially women, youth and marginalized groups, and actors along the dairy value chain, will increase productivity and resilience while reducing negative impacts of their livestock systems.


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