Facilitating cooperation along dairy supply chains

In Kenya, the dairy sector is characterized by a high share of small-scale producers and traders. To address the specific challenges faced by them, multi-stakeholder dialogues have been held in Nakuru County, northeast of Kenya’s capital city Nairobi.

Building on work done by other RELOAD researchers in 2013-2014, MSc student Joana Albrecht from DITSL, Witzenhausen, worked from May-September of 2015 with the goal of bringing these small-scale dairy stakeholders together. She made initial contact visits and as a first step, invited for meetings with other people belonging to the same stakeholder group, e.g. farmer-to-farmer, trader-to-trader, and retailer-to-retailer meetings. This set a foundation for representatives to be chosen for multi-stakeholder meetings with people connecting the milk chain from production to retail. This group met weekly for one month before a multi-stakeholder meeting which included government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Dairy Board on September 2nd, 2015.

This meeting initiated a process for improved communication to foster more trustful relationships between primary stakeholders, who directly handle the milk, and secondary stakeholders, such as those who are involved in governance of milk practices. As implementation of policies related to milk handling has been changing, this is a particularly important issue. This meeting enabled an exchange of perspectives and challenges and made clear the need for communication to create solutions for improved compliance and reduced harassment. Such solutions are necessary to enable people involved in the small-scale dairy sector to continue their livelihoods and to continue providing milk, which is accessible for low-income consumers.

Following this multi-stakeholder meeting, a new official community-based organization consisting of dairy farmers, milk transporter/traders and milk bar owners was initiated on September 4th with elections for official positions held on September 17th. Monthly meetings are planned with activities such as exchange visits between participants. Sustaining regular and productive contact with the representatives from policy and governance as experienced in the September 2nd meeting is a shared group goal.

As part of the RELOAD transdisciplinary approach, we will sustain this multi-stakeholder platform, so that people directly involved in milk handling and representatives of policy and governance can communicate and engage in a collaborative learning process with facilitation by researchers.