Building bridges: part two

Give dairy farmers in developing countries a market and support them with new production models. That way we can build bridges between the dairy industry and local production in developing countries. In part one I have outlined the different problems we are facing and the opportunities we can grasp. In this part, I will explain how Solidaridad has effectively made progress in the dairy industry in developing countries.

Read Building bridges: part one.

Bridge over the cornfield.

Solidaridad wants a shift to a different production model

Solidaridad wants to set up projects with different production models, involving a minimum of 10 or more cows and 10 litres of milk per cow. This can be for individual farmers, families or multiple farmers within one community. With more cows per farm and a higher rate of production, less land, labour, feed and other products are required per litre of milk. The larger scale and lower cost price create the scope to make the enterprise more professional and deliver quality, which is the foundation for animal welfare, reduced emissions and the effective use of land and water. Clustering these farms will give dairy companies access to an attractive milk supply where quality is guaranteed. If the farmers are able to enter into long-term partnerships with the dairy companies, this will give them the opportunity to invest in technology and development, or even to attract impact investors. In other words, it is a production model that incorporates capacity-building, specialisation, technology, chain integration and links with investment opportunities.

Small farmers will continue to be involved

By working solely with farmers with 10 or more cows, programmes can focus on smaller numbers than if they had to work with millions of very small-scale farming enterprises, thus making the initiative easier to manage. Does that mean we are excluding small-scale farmers from being involved? No, they can expand into producing animal feed or play other roles. In fact, the opposite is true: it is the small-scale models that offer no viable prospects for them to develop into the future.

Successful examples

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution; every situation requires a tailor-made approach. We can learn from places around the world where these types of production models are already being implemented successfully. Examples of this are Friesland Campina’s Dairy Village in Indonesia, where farmers and cattle are clustered in a new farming model, and also Smart Dairy Inside, a partnership, which helps to develop small-scale, clustered Modular Farms in Kenya. Or, take the Village Milking Parlours in India, where farmers take their cattle to have them machine-milked, after which the milk is cooled. We are currently developing initiatives in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Nicaragua.

No solution is possible without the dairy industry!

The development of local, professional dairy production in developing countries is possible, but it requires the worldwide dairy industry to change its way of thinking, doing and working together. Dairy companies with a presence in developing countries need to be willing to invest and make agreements that give the local dairy market a chance. This will make it possible to further professionalise local dairy farms through capacity-building and investments in upscaling and technology. Successful initiatives will, in turn, draw impact investors such as the World Bank and various other foundations.

Join us!

With this in mind, we would therefore like to invite the dairy industry to work together with us on developing innovative business plans for local dairy production in developing countries and establishing pilot projects in various places throughout the world. This will enable us to make local dairy production viable, ensure that local dairy farmers are competitive in the global market and contribute to increased sustainable dairy production worldwide, in a way that is respectful towards people and the environment. Read more about Solidaridad’s work.


Catharinus Wierdawierda
Global Programme Manager Dairy for Solidaridad

With almost 50 years of experience in facilitating the development of socially responsible, ecologically sound and profitable supply chains, Solidaridad is a frontrunner in the area of sustainable economic development. Catharinus is responsible for the global strategy, gives support to the regional offices to develop new dairy programmes and is building partnerships with companies. He is son of a dairy farmer and has more than 20 years experience in the dairy sector in The Netherlands and abroad.He is a speaker during the summit. Contact Catharinus: