Supporting our customers improve dairy farm productivity in the Dominican Republic

The challenge – addressing food insecurity challenges by improving local milk production

While the Dominican Republic’s dairy sector is a very important source of local employment it is not able to supply the full range of dairy products consumed domestically. Imports are therefore necessary to meet the demand, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and GAIN Report on the Opportunities and Challenges in the Dominican Dairy Sector.

The dairy processors source all locally produced milk that meets the quality standards and cooperate with famers and milk collection centers to improve compliance with these standards.  However, there is a gap in the availability of local quality milk meeting these standards and the demanded volumes. The National Livestock Division (DIGEGA) of the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that due to the sanitary conditions and cold chain limitations, about 70 % of milk produced does not meet the standards. 

The dairy sector is mainly composed of small (10 or less cattle) and medium (50 or less cattle) farms, and they distribute their milk to small and medium processors, and collection centers.  The National Council for the Regulation and Promotion of the Dairy Industry (CONALECHE) estimates that there are about 413,000 milking cows, producing on average 5.0 litres/cow/day.  There is an opportunity to provide local farmers training and access to a formal market.

The initiative – introducing the Dairy Hub model to secure a stable supply of locally produced quality milk 

To support the development of a more self-sufficient dairy sector, Tetra Pak customers Coopesur and Agampta, with the support of Tetra Pak Food for Development, have introduced the Dairy Hub model to secure a stable supply of local quality milk. The partnerships are run as two separate projects.

The Dairy Hub model links smallholder farmers to dairy processors providing them access to formal markets.  The farmers receive training and services focused on improving profitability and growing their business. The model builds on developing farm management and milk production using step by step training approach with the support of Extension Officers. The Extension Officers are often employed by a processor, NGO or a local authority with the purpose to implement best practices and showcase productivity results.

The Extension Officers receive technical training from Dairy Experts at Tetra Pak Food for Development, and they cascade their knowledge further, according to the concept “Train the Trainers”.  This ensures a knowledge transfer from the Extension Officers to reference farmers, who will later cascade it to a wider community of farmers, also involved in the project.  In the first phase the reference farmers receive training from the Extension Officers. When the reference farms are performing well their results will be shared with the wider farming community through group trainings to showcase their results. This occurs in the second phase, which ensures farmers receiving the necessary competence to improve their milk production volumes and quality.  The two dairy processors involved in the project are Coopesur and Agampta, who work in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture for technical advisory services. 

Training farmers in Dominican Republic

Coopesur is a cooperative with around 800 farmers/members, organized in districts in the southern region. The cooperative plays an important role in the social and economic development of one of the poorest and most unfavored regions in the country. They have been supplying to the country’s national school breakfast programme since its inception.

The project partnership is being implemented during a 36-month period. It started in April 2021.  Apart from smallholder farmers, a staff at the milk collection centers is receiving technical training. Selected suppliers are being introduced such as: Veterinarians, equipment suppliers and feed suppliers. To improve milk quality, Coopesur is providing milk collection infrastructure.

Agampta is an association of dairy farmers from the Monte Plata region.  They collect approximately 30,000 liters of milk / day from 230 farms with a goal of increasing the volume to 50,000 liters/day in order to have a stable delivery of high quality milk throughout the whole year.  Agampta has been supplying milk to the country’s national school breakfast programme since 2012.

Value from initial results

During the first year, 40 reference farmers will benefit from the project support. During the second year, they will host group trainings with an additional 600 farmers to provide training and cascade their knowledge.

To date the following results are reported from the reference farms with an 15% average increase in milk production/ farm increased compared to baseline. Likewise, productivity per cow (L/cow/day) and per hectare (L/ha/day) increased by 8% and 14.6%, respectively. The daily gross income increased on average by +14.8% (from RD$ 4,927 in November 2021 to RD$ 5,655 in August 2022). The total collection of raw milk increased by 15% from 11,740 to 13,500 L/day with the objective of collecting at least 25,000 L/day.

“From COOPESUR and its associates, we are very satisfied with the innovative Dairy Hub project and the support provided by Tetra Pak and Food for Development, as it has helped us to take a positive step towards farm profitability and management”, states Rafael Landestoy, Board Chairman, COOPESUR.
“I value the support of the project as accurate, necessary, and efficient. Every time we receive the visit of the specialist, we get a lot out of it. We have gone from 6 to 9 liters per cow per day and have been able to incorporate mechanical milking”, states Emmanuel Matos, Dairy Farmer, COOPESUR.

In the 18 reference farms, milk production increased on average by 21.4% compared to baseline. Likewise, productivity per cow (L/cow/day) and per hectare (L/ha/day) increased by 13% and 21%, respectively. The daily gross income increased by +26.0%  (from RD$ 4,956 in November 2021 to RD$ 6,235 in July 2022).

Looking ahead

The project will continue to build a sustainable programme that continues to cascade the learnings to dairy farmers in the country.