Starting in 2015, TechnoServe worked with global healthcare company Abbott on a project to address these problems in ways that were meaningful to farmers, with trainings on animal care, finance and women’s empowerment. The project was designed to help one of Abbott’s suppliers access the high-quality, antibiotic- and aflatoxin-free milk that the firm needed for its nutrition business in India, while also providing more sustainable livelihoods for smallholder dairy farmers.
One of the most important accomplishments was fixing a gap in the dairy value chain. Without cold storage, milk could lose quality or go bad by the time it reached buyers, so the program recruited local entrepreneurs in each village to manage cooling tanks and collect the milk produced in the community. “I am learning a lot about clean milk production and how to manage milk procurement thanks to the training provided through TechnoServe,” said Gaurav Shirsath, one of the entrepreneurs. As farmers saw the opportunity to sell clean, high-quality milk and earn a premium, they decided to make the needed changes to meet quality standards and increase production. After receiving training from the program, Mahendra changed how he fed his cows, and adopted new cleanliness practices to prevent disease. His profits rose from practically nothing to $700 per month. “Today, I am running a business that is giving me profits. I am a businessman,” Mahendra says.
With his extra earnings, he has improved the family’s home and sends his children to good schools. He has also taught his daughters what he learned about dairy farming and financial management, so that they can help run their own farms one day.