SDVC worked with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve dairy farmers’ livelihoods in Bangladesh. The project also generated employment and business opportunities for poor households, other value chain operators (collectors, milk traders, dairy processors, etc.), and supporters (livestock health workers, input suppliers, and government and non-governmental institutions) in the target areas by incorporating them into a strong dairy value chain.
These activities were chosen because of the economic factors of urban demands for fresh milk, growing investments in infrastructure and processing capacity across the private sector, the high number of poor households already involved in the dairy enterprise, and the potential for doubling the income of impact groups. Activities that impacted gender equality were chosen because of women’s roles in dairy production, their engagement, easy activities within proximity to the home, and the potential to build on cultural legacy that values women’s engagement in dairy as an economic activity.
SDVC built household resilience, improved livelihoods, and helped chronically food insecure households increase their income and dairy consumption. The project focused on implementing change through:
- Improving productivity. SDVC provided training and education for 36,000 farmers and 1,162 producers groups so participants could increase the productivity of their cows and improve their marketing skills. It also supported access to technologies that would improve dairy production, such as fat testers, cooling equipment, and transport.
- Increasing access to inputs. SDVC connected participants to resources that linked them to feed, medicines, and artificial insemination. The project created a network of women-owned small businesses that brought essential inputs to the communities. This micro-franchise model turned into its own set of businesses: Krishi Utsho. They were also linked to savings institutions.
- Increasing access to markets. SDVC worked with 308 milk collectors and 201 livestock workers to produce quality products and gain market access. This project taught critical lessons about making markets more inclusive.
- Improving the policy environment. Project staff worked with the government, IFC, and other stakeholders for environmental policy issues.
- Use technology and data. The project created a GIS mapping system to help them and companies track and improve performance, sales, and the quality of services.
- Women’s empowerment increased: SDVC increased women’s empowerment by making them key players in the value chain. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute revealed that women’s access to and control over inputs increased significantly, and changes were emerging in community perspectives on women’s roles. On average, input shop owners made $681 per month (with men making $550 per month and women making $812 per month). The income of women shop owners was higher because they sold feed to the local community, and women farmers found it easier to interact with them.
- Household income went up: Average daily household production increased up to 22%, and milk prices received by the farmers increased 12% from the baseline. Average monthly income from milk sales increased from $9 to $20. Around 60% of savings were invested in different dairy activities, as well as reinvested in credit within group members. · Production improved. On average, Digital Fat Testing (DFT) milk collectors’ income increased from $157 to $288, an increase of 83% over the course of 12 months. This statistic can be attributed to greater volume of milk and higher fat content. More impacts of DFT are available here.
- Small businesses provided services and earned income: By the end of the project, there were 48 shops operating under the Krishi Utsho network, including 15 fully branded shops and 33 shops at various stages of conversion. Each Krishi Utsho shop recorded average monthly sales of $1,285 in June 2014, which were the highest monthly sales in the last fiscal year.