A new study on Ethiopia’s smallholder dairy value chain suggested that solar appliances have the potential to help dairy farmers overcome major challenges such as feed scarcity, low milk quality, and inefficient butter churning methods.
According to Precise’s Consult report, Ethiopia has Africa’s largest cattle population yet still imports dairy products to meet local demand. As per FAOSTAT, the country imported 173 tons of whole fresh cow milk, 181 tons of butter, and 178 tons of cheese in 2019.
Despite the fact that the number of cattle has increased over time, the daily milk supply per cow has shown very little improvement, according to the study. In 2019, indigenous breeds accounted for 97.7 percent of the 65.3 million cattle in Ethiopia, with an average daily milk output of 1.48 L/cow, compared to hybrid breeds, which can yield 10-15 L/cow per day.
The study’s key challenges for Ethiopia’s dairy farmers are as follows:
- The shortage and high cost of feed are important restrictions causing low milk production.
- The widespread use of manual milking methods by dairy farmers, as well as the lack of cold storage at various points of the value chain.
- Traditional and inefficient methods of butter churning are used by smallholder farmers to create butter, which typically takes 2-4 hours.
According to the assessment, solar milking machines can reduce the time and labor costs required to run a dairy farm while also improving the quality of milk produced. Furthermore, by lowering the rate of milk rejection, cold storage systems can increase farmers’ revenue. Simultaneously, solar butter churners reduce the amount of time and effort required to create butter. Solar-powered hydroponic fodder production, which makes use of solar water pumps to increase water efficiency, can augment dairy feed and boost milk production.
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