The impact of ‘white gold’ on development
While milk is an everyday commodity in much of Europe, it is much more to many communities in East Africa. Elanco Government Affairs and Shared Value Consultant Maria Chavez writes about a unique development partnership.

Last year, I joined some of my Elanco colleagues in visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda for the first time. It was an opportunity to see for ourselves the results of a major initiative that began some eight years ago, when we started working with Heifer International.

If you don’t know Heifer International, it’s an NGO that’s been doing transformative work in developing countries by ‘Passing on the Gift’ of an animal and the know-how for its upkeep and welfare.
One of its projects is the East Africa Dairy Development Project (EADD) which will enable 136,000 dairy farmers across East Africa to boost their milk yield. The majority of funding for this project is provided by a grant to Heifer International from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This not only boosts the income of each one of these farmers and their immediate local economies, but also increases food security for around one million people in the region.

It’s a hugely ambitious undertaking, and one that’s very close to our hearts. What began with a financial contribution from Elanco has grown into a practical working partnership that provides Heifer International staff with technical resources, connects Elanco employees directly to our cause, and has a positive impact on farmers and their families.

As the only private partner, we’ve tried to meet this challenge with the expertise we have across our business. We have some very smart people within the organisation who represent a fantastic resource to be tapped into for business acumen and animal health knowledge.

We’ve been able to develop a strategy to support the project with a focus on animal nutrition, health and reproduction. We will run training programmes for dairy farmers and local technical advisors to build a better understanding of these things; a healthy animal, after all, is a more productive one for those who depend upon it.

The ultimate aim is to double the milk yields in these communities, and last year I witnessed first-hand what an impact an increase of this kind can make. We saw lives being transformed by ‘white gold’, as farmers organised themselves into coops to improve their income and enrich their diets.

Something that really struck me was the experience of families who’d been able to send their children to school and university because of their new opportunities. I’m genuinely very proud to be part of this initiative.

Read more about the vital work done by Heifer International.

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