Got Camel Milk? Ethiopian Dairy Processor Ramps Up Production With USAID Support

The dairy market system in the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Ethiopia is predominantly subsistence-based, which means communities have limited access to markets and institutional support around agriculture and livestock management is limited. That’s why Feed the Future is providing technical and financial support to companies like Berwako Milk Processing PLC, a venture recently established by local entrepreneur Amir Mukhtar in Jijiga, the capital of the Somali Region of Ethiopia.

Berwako Milk Processing PLC is just one of six companies receiving a matching-grant through the Innovation Investment Fund of the Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement Through Market Expansion (PRIME) project in Ethiopia. PRIME is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Mercy Corps.

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Photo Credit: USAID/PRIME – Amir Mukhtar shows off his milk processing facility

 What is the Innovation Investment Fund?

The IIF facilitates finance to growth-oriented medium to large-scale enterprises through matching grants/contracts, leveraging local capital for investments in a range of market development activities that improve market linkages, generate employment, and increase financial inclusion. To date, the IIF has signed agreements with six companies for a total value of around $6 million USD, with private sector cost-share of $24.8 million USD, or 80 percent! The IIF provided a $370k grant to Berwako, which the company matched with $1.3 million of its own financing, mainly for purchasing equipment to expand production capacity.

Have you tried Camel Milk?

Almost a year into its start-up, Berwako is collecting camel and cow milk from approximately 300 households to process 1,200 liters of raw milk per day. The higher price Berwako offers for high-quality milk has already resulted in better raw milk and increased incomes for local milk-producing households. The company has also started marketing its products in Jijiga and other urban areas, such as Addis Ababa. Due to high demand, it is now expanding into neighboring countries such as Somalia and Djibouti. Berwako is even considering producing camel milk yogurt.

The Somali community especially highly prizes camel milk, a traditional product that has been enjoyed by generations of pastoralists. Perhaps not surprising, as camel milk has less fat than cow milk and camel milk is available even during the dry season when cow milk production significantly decreases in the pastoral areas. Currently Berwako is the only processor of camel milk in Ethiopia, but that first-mover advantage won’t last for long. There are already signs that other companies are moving into the fray.

Nonetheless, Mukhtar is optimistic about his company’s prospects. “While the completion of this project poses numerous challenges,” he says, “the vision of working together with the milk-producing communities and the support we are getting from USAID keeps us confident that what we are doing will bring tremendous benefits to the households we create markets for, consumers and the national economy.”

Currently working with two milk consolidation cooperatives in Danusha and Bombas, Berwako is playing an important role in catalyzing the regional dairy market and adding to the resilience of pastoralist households. The PRIME project supported the cooperative members through training on milk sanitation and quality, and additional support to the cooperatives for the provision of dairy equipment and technical capacity building will be provided by Berwako. This model ensures that a sustainable partnership is forged between Berwako and its suppliers.

What is the Impact?

With 36 full-time staff, nine of which were hired since PRIME’s started its support, Berwako is aiming to process around 5,000 liters of milk per day by the end of the year. It is anticipated that USAID’s support to Berwako under Feed the Future will enable more than 3,000 pastoral and agro-pastoral households to have access to a more reliable, fair and regular market for their milk, resulting in increased household income, resilience, and nutrition. In a virtuous circle, better access to markets will stimulate more production, improving livestock productivity and quality, which in turn will improve household nutrition and resilience. The work with Berwako and dairy cooperatives are complemented by PRIME’s Behavior Change Communication activities, including a 20-episode Soap Opera for Social Change developed in partnership with Warner Brothers as well as local Theatre Group Performances. These and other activities reinforce key messages that contribute to household nutrition, especially for women and children.

The USAID project, which is designed to increase household incomes and enhance resilience to climate change through market linkages in Ethiopia’s dryland areas, will continue to work with Berwako and other local entrepreneurs as part of Feed the Future to facilitate new and innovative products and services that will benefit Ethiopia’s pastoral and agro-pastoral community.

Please click the link to download this news, Got Camel Milk Ethiopian Dairy Processor Ramps Up Production With USAID Support [/read]

VSLAs Savings Exceed 1.1 Million Birr

A Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings. The purpose of a VSLA is to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services. Over the past decade, VSLAs have attracted attention among development partners and governments. The VSLA approach is a well organized and accountable system that even the least literate, least influential member of the group can understand and trust. The system is very simple; but the results are powerful. The promise of VSLAs lie in their ability to empower people to work their own way out of the poverty trap, while avoiding dependency and handouts from aid. Numerous studies have found substantial positive impacts of participation in VSLAs, specifically in the areas of eradicating poverty, promoting children’s education, improving health outcomes for women and children, and empowering women.Less

Having these benefits in mind, PRIME supported Private Service Providers (PSPs) for the formation and expansion of VSLAs through the PSP model, which was selected because of its cost effectiveness and sustainability. PSPs train VSLAs, for a fee, paid by the VSLAs, eliminating the need for long-term external technical support. The main advantage of this approach is that new VSLAs continue to be created (and supported) after a project has ended.

The approach was started early in the month of July 2014 by providing eight days induction training for PSPs across all PRIME intervention areas. The PSPs are expected to transform individuals into effective VSLA by organizing, communicating, and paying attention to how the group members work together. PSPs create an environment of respect and safety, encourage active listening, and help groups to plan and monitor. PSPs are help to ensure the success of the VSLA. They help participants to understand their own self-interest in joining a VSLA. PSPs build awareness and confidence among VSLA members so that they adopt the system, keep it within their control, and work independently.

As of the reporting period of Quarter 10, the number of groups formed Via PSP approach across three clusters reached 232 with total members of 4,390 (68% are women) respectively. On top of these, value of saving reached 1,155,012 (ETB) and value of loan outstanding is also about 305,450 (ETB) respectively.

The groups also save social fund for emergency loans or grants to take care of unexpected and urgent needs, during weekly meetings or in between. The total social fund balance also reached 212,780 (ETB). The social fund is to address social issues such as emergency assistance, educational costs for orphans, funeral expenses, maternity, etc. these prevents members from VSLA members in Kebribeya Woreda unexpected shocks during disaster and overcomes shortage of money to cover unexpected situations.

Mercy Corps is also using the Management Information System (MIS) to conveniently track a variety of VSLAs data established via Private Service Providers (PSP) approach across all clusters. The SAVIX MIS will help to know which Private Service Providers are performing the best and which Private Service Providers are performing the worst. Additionally, it helps to track the data or status of VSLAs and it supports to take corrective action in improving their performance. Please click the link to download the success story, VSLAs Savings Exceed 1.1 Million Birr

PRIME Supports Haramaya University Organize The 3rd International Veterinary Education Conference

In collaboration with, has stated its 3rd International Veterinary Education Conference today, 18 June 2015. The theme of the two-day conference (18- 19 June 2015) conference is “Enhancing Livestock Productivity, Role of Quality Veterinary Education, Research and Rationalization in Promoting Export Market to Endure Food Security and Sustainable Economic Growth”. Twenty-three scholars presented papers and six of thse studies were done by Haramaya University and supported by PRIME. Dr. Abdulmen Mohammed, PRIME staff, presented PRIME’s experience on competitive grants for private veterinary pharmacies. Each presentation was followed by a question and answer session in which challenges, lessons learned, recommendations and way forward were discussed. The conference was attended by more than 300 people, including, the State Minister for Livestock Development, and they were drawn from, Ministry of Agriculture, NGOs, senior officials of Haramaya University, Agricultural Research Centers, Deans of Veterinary Colleges of various universities, students.The conference was instrumental [read more = “Continue Reading” less=”Less”]

The 3rd International Veterinary Education Conference in Haramaya University in progressPRIME partnered with Haramaya University,the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ethiopian Veterinary Association (EVA) and other development partners to support the College of Veterinary Medicine,Haramaya University,to organize the 3rd International Veterinary Education Conference from June 17-19, 2015. The theme of the conference was, “Enhancing Livestock Productivity, Role of Quality Veterinary Education, Research and Rationalization in Promoting Export Market to Ensure Food Security and Sustainable Economic Growth”. Papers were presented under three thematic areas: Impact of Disease and Climate Change on Livestock Productivity; Veterinary Rationalization in bringing research findings and recommendations to the attention of decision makers and stakeholders.

Please Click the link to download this news, Haramaya Conference News [/read]

Gulf Food Fair Visits Turn Over Businesses

The livelihood of pastoralist families is dependent on incomes from livestock and livestock products. Addressing constraints to the export market and domestic trade, and improving the livestock market information system has, therefore, a direct benefit to improving pastoralist livelihoods. One of PRIME’s objectives is to improve market access through several interventions one of which is facilitating market linkages between producers, exporters, retailers, wholesalers and government structures.

Ato Bereket Demeke, a resident of Yabelo, has been in the livestock trading business for as long as he remembers, following his father’s footsteps; however, it wasn’t until 2002 that he set up a legal firm to trade in live animals. Demeke provided livestock animals to domestic markets, including Addis Ababa. “Export market in those days was somehow unthinkable for us,” Demeke recalls how export market was monopolized by few individuals. In 2004, however, Bereket noticed a new development; importers started to come to Ethiopia looking for clients who could supply live animals. He soon took advantage of the market development and got into the export business, which proved to be more lucrative. USAID’s support to attend the Gulf Food Fair in 2012 was an eye opener for him. His business has been doing well ever since.

Bereket has been attending the Gulf Food Fair consistently and his business is growing. USAID supported his trip to Dubai for the second time through PRIME in 2015. In the event, he distributed more than 200 business cards and 300 brochures, and networked with 47 firms. His participation has started to bear fruits already and business prospects for Bereket couldn’t be brighter. A couple of companies have already placed orders valued $3,970,000. He has also sent proforma invoice for some and entered into negotiations with about six businesses from Oman, Bahrain, Libya, Egypt and Dubai. “On the whole,” says Bereket, “Business has never looked more promising to me. By the end of April, I expect my sales to grow by at least 25 percent. [read more=”Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]That surely will turn over my business.” USAID, through PRIME, supports participation of Ethiopia’s export abattoirs, live animal exporters, milk processors, and government focal persons in Gulf Food Fair every year.

Bereket Demeke, Livestock Exporter (middle), is negotiating with live animal importers at the Gulf Food Fair. USAID-PRIME supported 14 businesses and a government focal person to participate in the 2015 event, which was held from 8-12 February 2015. Ethiopian businesses took an advantage of the event to showcase what Ethiopia can offer to the most preferred export destinations markets in the Middle East and beyond. A number of fruitful face to face negotiations were conducted and several business deals were concluded. All traders managed to get contract and other promising business deals; the participation resulted in accruing above $6,210,600 value of foreign currency earnings.

Gulf Food Fair, one of the world’s largest and most important food and beverage industry event, is annually organized by Dubai World Trade Centre in the United Arab Emirates. It is a strategic platform for buyers and sellers to conduct direct business face to face. The exhibition is a showcase for manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers from around the world, representing all of the key sectors within the food and hospitality trade. Every year, it welcomes tens of thousands of trade visitors from around the world at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). With a record 113,398m² in exhibition space and 4,500 companies from 120 countries participating, Gulfood 2015 was the largest edition in the event’s history. Please click the link to download the success story, Gulf Food Fair Visits Turn Over Businesses