SNV Uganda and Dairy Development Authority (DDA) have launched the first ever Practical Dairy Training Farms (PDTFs) in South Western Uganda.
The initiative is part of the four-year Inclusive Dairy Enterprise (TIDE) project that SNV is implementing in the districts of Bushenyi, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ntungamo, and Sheema in South Western Uganda with funding from the Netherlands Embassy.
“I am very happy that dairy farmers are paying to learn. This is the way to go if we want to increase our productivity and add value to our businesses. Instead of travelling to Kenya and other countries to learn, SNV and Dairy Development Authority have opened three dairy training centres of excellence for the region. We should take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to add value to our products. I thank SNV and DDA for this great initiative.” Hon. Joy Kabatsi, State Minister for Animal Industry said during the launch of the PDTFs in Mbarara. Through the project, SNV and its partners aim to stimulate dairy farmers in the southwest milk shed to increase milk production.
The overall project goal is to train 5,000 farmers during the four years of implementation and indirectly impart knowledge and skills to an additional 15,000 who will be mentored by the PDTF mentees.
Uganda is still grappling with extension service delivery. Various extension delivery approaches have failed to increase the uptake and adoption of good farming practices that improve production and productivity. With a rapidly expanding population, environmental degradation coupled with limited resources (land and money), rethinking the way knowledge and technology is delivered to farmers has become a necessity.
The TIDE project aims to improve dairy farm incomes for 20,000 farmers by increasing productivity (milk yield per cow). Through the PDTF approach, model dairy farms (at different levels and in different locations) are identified and supported to develop into model training centres. Three farms (AGDI Dairy Farm and MUTANOGA Farm in Kiruhura district and Rubyerwa Dairy Investments in Mbarara district) have been identified for the pilot phase. The training centres will offer a one-week course series on three thematic areas: dairy cattle breeding; fodder, feeding and nutrition; disease prevention and control.
While conventional development approaches consisted of handouts, with farmers predominantly accessing free extension services and getting allowances for participating in the trainings, the PDTF model is private sector led and demand driven. Farmers identify their individual needs based on their specific production challenges and pay for the training to bridge the identified knowledge/ skills gap. 5,000 farmers have been earmarked for the practical dairy training. A total of 124 rural farmers have already undergone training in the last two months with another 32 already signed up for the month of September. Each farmer pays on average 350,000 UGX to participate in the one week training course at any of the three PDTFs. The farmers are identified through their cooperatives, organised farmer groups and individual farmers from the community willing to pay for the training.
The PDTF activities have been supported by a range of partners. The Dairy Development Authority (DDA) provides guidance on policy issues, and links the project to local actors. The zonal research institute from NARO, Mba-ZARDI has developed the training materials and trained the trainers, while the dairy cooperative umbrella, UCCCU mobilizes farmers to take part in the training. Dutch partners, Wageningen University, Agriterra and The Friesian are helping ensure that modern dairy production methods are available to Ugandan dairy farmers through the PDTFs.
Read more about our work in Uganda.