The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major food system disruptions and smallholder farmers have been heavily affected as mobility restrictions continue to limit their access to the formal supply chain. Smallholder farmers account for 42% (360 million tonnes) of global milk production, so food availability is emerging as a major concern.
Through our Dairy Hub model, we participate to build local dairy value chains by providing technical assistance to smallholder farmers, supporting our dairy customers' ability to collect more quality milk. Our Dairy Hub model is being rolled out in various countries throughout the world. The team responsible for the project implementation and training are the Dairy Development Experts at Tetra Laval Food for Development. It is their job to support Tetra Pak customers with hands-on dairy farm training, and, until now, this was always conducted on-site.
Due to the ongoing travel restrictions, the team has been working to implement innovative and alternative ways of supporting customers involved in Dairy Hub projects. As part of this, a new Dairy Hub online training solution had been developed for our customers. The online training programme consists of interactive modules that are held via webinars, as well as follow-up video meetings. Training has been rolled out on a wide array of important farm management topics including bio-security, milk production, feeding and nutrient fundamentals, animal welfare, and milk quality, all of which are focused on improving farm profitability.
The purpose of the online training programme is to continue to equip Extension Service Officers, who are most often employees of our customers, with the necessary knowledge and skills to support smallholder farmers with technical assistance and best practice, following our Training of Trainer methodology. Currently, around 90 Extension Service Officers in 10 customer projects in seven countries covering 36,420 smallholder farmers, have been invited to attend the online trainings.
Our Dairy Development Experts are continuously supporting customers by answering technical questions, sharing articles and reports, communicating results, and posting visuals of on-farm activities, so that they can address any issues at farm level. Participants in the interactive groups that have been set-up also have access to communication and follow-up materials, as well as answers to training questions.
The new online training programme has received high praise in customer feedback surveys. Anonymous feedback surveys are sent to all participants at the end of each webinar training session, which give quantitative and qualitative insights how the session was received, with an average cumulative total score of 4.7 on a scale from 1-5.
Djibril Seck, Milk Procurement Manager with Siagro Kiréne in Senegal, said: “Distance training has been more than beneficial for our structure. The modules developed during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic were of high quality and are being applied directly on the farms by Kiréne. A big thank you to the entire Tetra Pak and Food for Development team for the continuous support and search for solutions for the achievement of our milk collection objectives in volume and quality.”
Saviola Shahollari, Organisation Development Manager at Lufra Dairy, Albania, added: “I would like to truly thank you for all the support and assistance you have provided to us until now. It has been of great value and a good use for the benefit of our great assets - the farmers.”
For more information about Dairy Hubs please contact Gabriella Roxström. Tetra Laval Food for Development Office