Co-developing innovations with smallholder dairy farmer groups in Kenya

Dr Maria José Restrepo from the German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL) finalized her PhD studies focusing on collaborative learning for reducing losses and increasing value of small-scale milk production in Nakuru County, Kenya.

Dairy production is an important part of rural economies in Kenya, closely linked to food and nutrition security. A major part of these activities is performed by small-scale dairy farmers working with limited resources. Losses account for around 6% of the total production, but can be much more important for individual farmers or in certain seasons.


While common approaches to improving these production systems usually imply conducting training courses for dairy farmers to disseminate ‘improved’ practices developed elsewhere, Dr. Restrepo implemented her PhD research in an innovative way by supporting dairy farmer groups in co-developing solutions to the problems they face based on their own context-specific knowledge and understanding.


For this purpose, Dr Restrepo developed a conceptual framework for collaborative learning and implemented it together with two groups of farmers. An activity and knowledge analysis, partly based on participatory assessment of videos documenting farmer practices, delivered entry points for system improvements and enhanced scientific understanding of the problems and constraints the farmers faced. A further focus was on the joint evaluation of the collaborative learning endeavor by farmers and researchers.


Dr Restrepo’s work was supervised by Prof Brigitte Kaufmann (DITSL) and implemented in close cooperation with Prof Joseph Matofari, Prof. Bockline Bebe and members of their respective teams at Egerton University, Kenya.