Originally published on April 8, 2019.
Teger Gadi, chairman of Uprocenya dairy union stands outside one of the milk collection centers.
In 2009, the Nyabihu district in Rwanda had six dairy farmer cooperatives with no collaboration. There were no milk collection centers, so farmers from the cooperatives would look for their own markets, leading to low profits and confusion.
Teger Gadi, chairman of the Uprocenya union, looks back on these days with a slight twinkle in his eye – because he knows how far these cooperatives have come. As a dairy farmer, he has been a part of the CEMO cooperative for many years, one of the six that now comprise Uprocenya.
Improved quality control, improved market access, improved leadership management, improved financial management, improved genetics of cows in the area – the list of progress in Uprocenya and its cooperatives goes on.
“We want to ensure the union supports our members, completely. People are seeing the changes and have faith in leadership,” says Teger Gadi.
Land O’Lakes International Development has been facilitating trainings on cooperative management, governance structure and artificial insemination through the USAID Cooperative Development Program (CDP). The trainings teach leaders and members technical and practical skills.
“Today, I can see that my cooperative is standing because of the trainings. In five years, I want my cooperative to be an example for this province in Rwanda – exemplary in finances and skills,” Claude Gefusi, milk collection center manager for CEMO.
Since the trainings focused on both leadership and on on-farm management, the improvements are making a large impact across the cooperatives.
With access to milk collection centers, farmers are able to milk cows twice a day, instead of just in the morning. This increases the amount of cash going back to the farmers.
The structure of the union and cooperative have been simplified, making it easier for farmers to know finances and how their cooperative is doing.
Through special training with an earlier CDP program with Land O’Lakes International Development and USAID, RDCPII, farmers were trained in artificial insemination.
Before, cows were prone to disease and genetic disorders from using bulls. With artificial insemination, there has been a 72 percent success rate of pregnancy, with 1036 calves born through this method. Even though there haven’t been official trainings for a few years, Teger says it’s had a lasting impact.
“It’s become a culture for our farmers,” says Teger. “People still come in to do AI.”
On the farm level and market level, quality has improved for the milk.
Each intervention along the value chain of the dairy cooperative has led to more success for Uprocenya and more success for its farmers. And that means an economic shift in the region toward self-sustainability for many families.
“People are shifting from personal farming to professional farming,” says Teger.