A Strategic Plan Developed by a F2F Volunteer Helped Dairy Farmers to Thrive During Global Pandemic
F2F volunteer Bruce Lachney and the cooperative’s manager, Mr. Benard King’oo, overlook dairy procedures.
The global COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate impact on most rural farming households and communities in Kenya. Many farmers lost access to finance, farm inputs and markets. Dairy farmers faced hardships with major disruptions to the value chain. Dairy cooperatives to whom many farmers sold their supply also began to scale and shut down operations. This caused dairy farmers to either destroy or consume their unsold supply. Moreover, the economic vulnerability of dairy farmers across Kenya worsened as their already low incomes decreased further.
However, Makueni Dairy Cooperative, a 650-member dairy cooperative, did not face these challenges and economic hardships due to the support and technical assistance received from the IESC Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Access to Finance Program. From January to February 2020, Mr. Bruce Lachney, an U.S. agriculture expert and cranberry farmer from Washington, worked with Makueni to identify key gaps within the cooperative and develop a two-year strategic business plan with a focus on sustainable resource management. Additionally, Bruce trained over 30 individuals at the cooperative on the implementation and operationalization of strategic business plan.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck soon after Bruce’s assignment, the cooperative was prepared with a roadmap to adapt to the new market realities and quickly address the market demand for milk. This led to a three-fold rise in sales within six months of implementing the strategic plan and, ultimately, an increase in payments to farmers for their supply.
Dairy farmers delivering milk at Makueni cooperative.
Makueni was able to increase payments made to its farmers by 22% per liter, which was double the market average. A dairy farmer working with Makueni received USD $6.30 for every 10 liters of milk delivered compared to the market average of approximately USD $3.00 for a similar volume of milk. Johnson Mwalimu Ndavi, a member of the cooperative and retired teacher, appreciated the improved incomes. Jonson noted, “I have been a member of this society for over 20 years, but I have never seen the good payments I now receive. In the last six months, I have been able to buy a piece of land here in town from the savings I made.”
Through the support from and resilience built by the F2F program, instead of the pandemic triggering a shutdown of operations and major losses of income for its dairy farmer members, Makueni was able to thrive and its dairy farmers were able to improve their livelihoods.
The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 50 years.
The John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) provides technical assistance from U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries with the goal of promoting sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing.