In Ecuador, small and medium-scale dairy producers deliver more than 75% of the country’s milk. More than a million families depend on dairy for their income, with small dairy farms alone contributing 1% of the country’s GDP.
The Dairy Network in the Andes (DNA) project is enabling local farmers to expand their dairy farms and join forces to set up rural dairy enterprises. Working with 2,850 farmers in Cotopaxi, Pichincha and El Oro provinces, the project builds on progress made under previous Heifer projects and is supporting families to close the living income gap. Starting with the core product, the project aims to increase the quantity and quality of milk each farm produces. Training in dairy cattle management, pasture utilization, and the use of milking equipment and electric fences boost each cow’s milk output from 6 to 10 liters per day.
Producer associations then work together to achieve 100% processing capacity, or 2,000 liters of milk a day, with technical assistance, veterinary and genetic improvement services for cattle, and enhanced forage for livestock. Farmer associations then help establish long-term supply chains for these products, forging valuable partnerships marketing milk to major dairy corporations such as Parmalat, Alpina, El Milde, Tony, Polaca, El Ranchito, and Nutrileche. Negotiating as a group and being able to reliably deliver higher volumes, enables farmers to command more competitive prices.