Mozambique: Milk paves road from poverty

Mozambique dairy producers Jemute and Teresa with their son.Not having enough money to feed and clothe their children tormented Teresa Alberto João Danasio and her husband Jemute Manuel Chaona for years. “We have a saying in Mozambique that happiness comes from the stomach,” Teresa said. “So, if the kids are hungry, it means they are sad. As a mother, this really affected me.”

At the time, the family of five, plus four relatives, relied exclusively on the $50 a month Jemute earned as a social service assistant. Then Teresa heard about the USDA-funded Food for Progress Program (FFP) implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, which would provide participants with a dairy cow.

Drought and a 16-year civil war decimated Mozambique’s livestock sector, which supports more than 80% percent of the population. Since 2008, Land O’Lakes International Development has been helping establish a new smallholder dairy sector that meets market demand, while addressing the gender constraints faced by female farmers.

The FFP program is linking 4,050 smallholder farmers to a commercial dairy value chain in Maputo, Sofala and Manica provinces, and training 16,000 animal farmers like Teresa and Jemute in new and improved agricultural techniques and management practices.

Teresa with her Jersey cow.After much discussion and skepticism, the couple decided to take a chance and enroll in the program. After completing Land O’Lakes’ two-week required training course, Teresa and Jemute received their pregnant, purebred Jersey cow, who they named Teresinha. She quickly became a cash cow, producing between 12 or more liters of milk a day.

Teresa keeps about two liters to feed their family and sells the rest to Copoleite, a cooperative based in the provincial capital, which operates a processing plant, or to a local microprocessor. That milk generates about $100 a month, doubling Jemute’s salary and tripling household income. This inflow of cash allows the couple to pay for school uniforms and lunches, Teresinha’s feed and achieve Teresa’s dream – to build a house for the whole family.

“I can now envision a future where my female calf starts milking, and that means in a year or two, I will have two cows, then three. That puts us in a great situation,” she says. “I had no hope, but now I feel like a new Teresa, a proud mother able to meet our household needs.”

Learn more about Land O’Lakes International Development and its sustainable cooperative development. Land O’Lakes IDD is a member of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council. Follow OCDC on LinkedIn and Land O'Lakes IDD on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Posted 6/21/16