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Program to Transform East Africa AI Delivery and Dairy Production
Minnesota Ag Connection - 11/17/2015

A new program poised to reduce poverty for farmers in Tanzania and Ethiopia by increasing the productivity of dairy cows has just been awarded to the Land O'Lakes International Development Fund by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Public-Private Partnership for Artificial Insemination Delivery (PAID) program, a U.S. $18.1 million, 5-year initiative, will address genetic constraints to dairy productivity in both countries by strengthening the delivery of artificial insemination (AI) services through public-private partnerships.

PAID will establish more sustainable, efficient and effective private sector and government-led channels for delivering AI and related services to improve dairy cattle productivity, while helping stimulate significant private sector investments that will lead to the inclusive growth of East Africa's dairy sector.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in this critical initiative, as it will play a catalytic role in enabling dairy farming to serve as a viable pathway out of poverty," said Jon Halverson, Executive Director of the Land O'Lakes International Development Fund. He added, "Compared to rain-fed crops, dairy farming can provide families not only with a year-round income, but also with a regular source of animal protein they can consume." However, these potential nutritional and economic benefits are limited by the use of local breeds. In Ethiopia and Tanzania, local cows only produce an average of 2.3 liters per day of milk, compared to more than 12 liters a day with improved crossbreeds.

Through PAID, Land O'Lakes IDF will work collaboratively with the Tanzanian and Ethiopian governments and dairy genetics firms to strengthen the delivery of reliable AI services at the household level. Land O'Lakes IDF expects to support 800 private and public AI service providers to train at least 225,000 smallholders on improved dairy cattle management and to deliver approximately 1.8 million AI and other dairy production-related inputs and services. Finally, it will enable the National AI Centers in both countries to ramp up their production and distribution of quality frozen dairy cattle semen, including crossbreeds.

The PAID program and its partners will also examine and test several business models for scaling up AI delivery long-term, beyond the life of the program. It will work collaboratively with complementary dairy efforts, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) program in Tanzania.

PAID will support significant productive and economic gains for smallholders in Ethiopia and Tanzania, and anticipates enabling smallholder farmers to access 617,000 new improved breed calves, representing a value of more than U.S. $1 billion. The program will also work to generate farmer demand for AI by setting targets for technicians to obtain conception rates of at least 40 percent, and calving rates of at least 85 percent. The program will also ensure that women are able to reap these rewards, by empowering 250 women to become entrepreneurs in dairy cattle AI service delivery, and by training at least 157,500 active women dairy farmers (70 percent of farmer trainees) in improved cattle management.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's investment in PAID, paired with Land O'Lakes' substantial expertise developing the dairy sector in East Africa, will modernize AI service delivery in both Ethiopia and Tanzania. It will ultimately give private genetics companies the confidence to accelerate their investment timelines and enter markets that otherwise would be too nascent, particularly when targeting smallholders.

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