Farmer-to-Farmer’s Focus on Animal Health and Food Safety Boosts Revenue for Ugandan Family Farm
A holistic approach to animal health and food safety resulted in a 17 percent increase in milk and yogurt production for a family-run operation in southwestern Uganda. Overall revenue at the farm rose from $63,932 in August 2020 to $361,111 in June 2023. The activities were part of USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Uganda, which prioritizes support to small agribusinesses, particularly those working with livestock.
How Were Results Achieved?
Beginning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020, Farmer-to-Farmer paired remote volunteers set out to assess the health and nutrition of the cows at Kabeihura Farms Limited in Bushyeni District. His goal: improve the animals’ health to ensure safe, high-quality milk. To do so, he studied the farm’s feeding regiment and adjusted the plan according to the needs of the herd. By separating the cows into five categories — young calves, weaned calves, pregnant heifers, late milkers and early milkers — he was able to develop a strategy to meet the specific dietary needs of each group. To secure the sustainability of the new program, the volunteer trained Kabeihura's team on silage production to ensure the proper planting, harvesting and supply base needed for ongoing silage production.
Once the health of the animals and the quality and production of the milk reached desired levels, Farmer-to-Farmer arranged for a second set of paired remote volunteers to assess the farm’s yogurt production and food safety processes. The goal was to design a process that would maintain a high-quality product with solid market demand and long shelf life by addressing the entire process from milking to packaging and delivery. Based on his findings, the volunteer worked with Kabeihura’s experts to establish a comprehensive set of hygiene protocols that included adding a foot bath at the milk reception entrance, a hand washing facility, industrial curtains at all entrances and exits, as well as ensuring doors and windows always remained closed and workers followed a dress code. Sodium hypochlorite prevented microbial contamination while fumigation, traps and bait controlled pests.
Next, the volunteers began training relevant staff on the best practices in milk handling, processing, cultures, packaging, storage and transportation. They designed a flow chart and a manual to maintain the production adjustments to ensure ongoing product safety sustainability. The flow chart and manual included milk testing before processing, pasteurization, chilling the product before packaging, keeping the culture under frozen conditions and installing refrigeration systems in the product transport vehicles.
"At the moment, we are selling our yogurt in about 12 districts, mainly Western Uganda,” said Isaac Muhanguzi, the farm’s Operations Manager. “Because of these changes and because of the improved quality, and the fact that we can compete, we shall certainly keep on extending and covering more areas until we reach the capital city, Kampala, or beyond. The product is competitive now."
Why the Focus on Food Safety?
Food safety is essential to the success of small agribusinesses, particularly those working with livestock, as much of a company’s growth and sustainability depend on following safety protocols throughout the product value chain. In the context of dairy, food safety must be a priority because any butter, yogurt or cheese with unhygienic milk will be unsafe regardless of the safety provisions put into place for the consumer product. From the cows' health all the way to how the product is packaged and transported, food safety protocols must be followed or the end product will be at risk.
How Did CRS Choose This Farm?
CRS selected Kabeihura Farms because it is a fast-growing, multifaceted family-run operation dedicated to providing high-quality products. Founded by Eriab Muhozi in 1975 on 20 hectares of land in Bushyeni District of Western Uganda, devoted to cultivating tea, the property has since grown to include dairy, poultry, and fish, in addition to 40 hectares of eucalyptus forest. Kabeihura was an excellent choice for support from the Farmer-to-Farmer program as it prioritizes its support to small agribusinesses, particularly those working with livestock, with the objective of increasing livestock productivity. In addition, Kabeihura was chosen because it is playing a major role in the value chain as a producer, processor and marketer.
Watch the video to learn more about USAID Farmer-to-Farmer's full support to Kabeihura Farm.