When Ethiopia takes part in world school milk day, there is never enough milk to go round. Despite the fact that the country has more cattle than any other African nation, only a fraction of the milk they produce ever gets to market.
The consequence is that children often grow up with no dairy products in their diet at all. For four out of 10, their growth and brain development are stunted by long-term malnutrition – a statistic that could be improved by building the availability of dairy nutrients.
On the agenda in Copenhagen
GAIN Nordic Partnership – part of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) – will put Ethiopia’s dairy value chain on the agenda at the 8th international Workshop on Public-Private Dialogue in Copenhagen on 10-13 March
The aim is to encourage more companies to join the drive towards sustainable innovation that will make dairy nutrition both affordable and accessible to low-income families.
According to senior advisor at GAIN Nordic, Charlotte Pedersen, the dairy value chain in Ethiopia represents a good business proposition for international and local businesses. For the many smallholder farmers, it holds an opportunity to move from subsistence to professional farming.
“The idea is that businesses contribute their core expertise. Our objective is to create value at each link in the value chain, from the quality of the soil and cattle feed to effective distribution of locally manufactured products to consumers, ” she says.
Private and public partners
GAIN Nordic has already obtained the commitment of several private and public stakeholders. Business members include Arla Foods Ingredients, Tetra Pak and the Ethiopian food companies: Hilina Enriched Food Processing and Horra Food Complex.
The partnership’s NGO member is DanChurchAid, which will ensure all business opportunities will benefit the low-income target group, while the Confederation of Danish Industries is sharing expertise in pro-poor business models. Denmark’s development cooperation Danida and the Ethiopian government are also actively supporting the Nordic initiative.
Two projects in the pipeline
During 2014, three field trips were made to map Ethiopia’s dairy potential and explore project ideas.
“Two of the products most widely consumed by low-income Ethiopians are biscuits and porridge. So one of our first projects will focus on developing a new locally produced enriched biscuit range with whey protein, minerals and vitamins,” Pedersen explains.
“For porridge, we are looking into local production of a nutrient sprinkle, containing whey permeate and other sources of nutrition, to be sold in sachets.”
GAIN Nordic will also work with local NGOs and the Ethiopian government on campaigns to raise consumer awareness of nutrition and ensure local legislation is met.
A responsible business proposition
Business development manager at Arla Foods Ingredients, Charlotte Sørensen agrees that the sustainability of GAIN Nordic initiatives is dependent on the business proposition for the companies involved. In both the biscuit and sprinkle projects, she expects the company’s whey ingredients to be part of the formulation.
“Our involvement ties in well with our commitment to responsibility. Most importantly, it is about creating mutual value through innovation. True sustainability is when everyone wins,” she says.
Visit the GAIN website to learn more about the GAIN Nordic Partnership. Read about the 8th international Workshop on Public-Private Dialogue here.
Alternatively, write to email@example.com.
Picture: DanChurchAid (FOLKEKIRKENS NØDHJÆLP) .