Sustainable Dairy Value Chains

Sustainable Dairy Value Chains

Publication info


Since 2007, CARE’s SDVC (Strengthening Dairy Value Chains) has worked with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gate’s Foundation  to improve dairy farmer’s livelihoods through improved the milk production and collection systems, as well as access to market through improved transportation networks and quality services for more than 36,000 smallholding and landless milk producers' households in Bangladesh.

The project seeks to double the monthly income of the targeted small-scale producers and create more sustainable livelihoods for the beneficiaries by incorporating them into a strengthened dairy value chain. The project is also generating commercially viable employment and business opportunities for poor households, other value chain operators (e.g. collector, milk traders, dairy processors etc.) and supporters (e.g. Livestock Health Worker, input suppliers, and government and non-government 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 private sector, the high number of poor households already involved in the dairy enterprise, and the potential for doubling the income of impact groups. The activities intended to impact gender empowerment were chosen because women’s role in the dairy production and their availability for engagement, the activities were relatively low labor and with in proximity to the household, and the potential to build on cultural legacy that valued women’s engagement in dairy as an economic activity that would work to decrease the current norms of male dominance in the dairy sector.


What have we accomplished?

  • Women’s Empowerment Increased: SDVC has increased women's empowerment by making them key players in the value chain.  A study by IFPRI revealed that women’s access to and control over inputs has increased significantly and changes are emerging in community and value chain actor perspectives on women’s role. On average, input shop owners make $681 per month (men making $550 per month and women making $812 per month). The income of women shop owners is higher because they sell feed to the local community, and women farmers find it easier to interact with them. In order to promote a more gender inclusive value chain and increase women's control over resources and decision making, 114 service providers (70 LHWs and 44 input shop owners) have participated in gender awareness sessions.
  • Household Income Went Up: average daily household production has increased up to 22% and milk prices received by the farmers have increased 12% from the baseline. Average monthly income from milk sales increased from $9 to $20. Around 60% of their savings are invested in different dairy activities, as well as reinvesting in some credit within group members. 
  • Production Improved: On average, DFT milk collectors’ income increased from $157 USD to $288 USD, 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: There are now 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 USD in June 2014, which were the highest monthly sales in the last fiscal year.
  • Farmers had links to markets: The project focuses on working with private sector companies, especially BRAC dairy, in order to establish upward market linkages for producers. Most farmers have adopted a strategy in which they sell to multiple buyers to ensure that they can sell their milk consistently and at fair prices. This flexibility allows farmers to be resilient despite the inconsistency of formal sector buyers and to cope when geography and climate may limit access to formal sector processors and throughout the flush season when formal sector demand is lower.
  • Resilience grew: Farmers suffered less during political crisis, and bounced back faster.


How did we get there?

SDVC builds the resilience of households and communities and promote gender equality and accountability by improving household livelihoods through allowing poor and chronically food insecure households to increase their income and dairy consumption. The project focuses on implementing change through: 

  • Improving Productivity: SDVC provided training and education for 36,000 farmers and 1162 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 and cooling equipment--and transport.  Group mobilization was a key aspect in creating a marketable, and uniform product that was linked to value chains. 
  • Increasing Access to Inputs: SDVC connected participants to resources that linked them to feed and 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 has turned into its own set of businesses, Krishi Utsho. They were also linked to savings institutions.
  • Increasing Access to Markets: SDVC worked with collectors and collection systems to create market linkages.   Other materials that increased the value of the product such as, digital fat testing meters and lactometers became accessible to the participants so the product was guaranteed as high quality to supply market demand.  308 milk collectors and 201 livestock workers helped support quality products and market access. This project taught critical lessons about Making Markets More Inclusive.
  • Improving the policy environment: Project staff worked with the government and IFC and other stakeholders for environmental policy issues.
  • Use Technology and Data: The project create a GIS mapping system to help themselves and companies track and improve performance, sales, and the quality of services across the project area.


Take a look at some of our resources:



Transforming Dairy Management & Improving Women's Lives