A recent business opportunity seminar facilitated by the MoreMilkiT project in Morogoro reviewed the progress of 25 Tanzanian milk traders in growing their milk businesses.
Traders from five districts—Kilosa and Mvomero in Morogoro region; and Handeni, Lushoto and Bumbuli in Tanga region—participated in the 28-30 June 2016 meeting in Morogoro town. The seminar reviewed their progress since they were trained in December 2015 on developing individual business plans and subsequently coached and mentored individually by the project team.
To measure their progress, a Trader Assessment Tool (TAT) was used to track the financial health of their businesses, their relationships/linkages with milk producers and service providers, and the quality of the milk they produce and how they market it. Each trader’s business was scored against these dimensions to provide a basis for troubleshooting. Agricultural experts working with the local government in the five districts were also trained on the use of the TAT tool so that they can better offer support to the milk traders to ensure these dairy businesses are sustainable.
Each milk trader was interviewed in the process of filling the TAT, which captured business performance information since the first training. Revenues, costs, milk purchase agreements, feeds and feeding linkages were evaluated and scored in five stages from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most advanced. The data was presented in tables, bar charts and eventually linked to a hexagon that was used to advise producers on areas to improve. Some businesses had maintained good relationships with producers and were selling high quality milk but their financial health was poor. An evaluation of Mary Tesha’s milk café, for example, showed that her business profits were the same as the previous year because she was depending on the same suppliers and customers. Her business scored four points but she was advised to increase the volume of milk sold and diversify her market in order to make her business more dynamic.
At the event, Lusato Kurwijila from Sokoine University of Agriculture, one of the key partners in the project, demonstrated the functions of the Mazzican, a milk handling equipment designed to help in checking mastitis, reducing spillage and easing milk collection and transportation. He said some local businessmen might be interested in importing the containers, which are expected to cost less and are lighter than the heavy aluminium milk cans currently used by the milk traders.
Traders said the seminar enabled them to learn from each other and opened their eyes to new practices. ‘I have seen the importance of keeping good business records and I have been challenged by one milk trader’s neat records,’ said Philemon Okeshu, a male trader from Morogoro. Elizabeth Philipo, a female trader, said the seminar and previous training have empowered her to effectively manage her business costs and to make more profit from milk sales.
The MoreMilkiT project is funded by Irish Aid, and is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It is implemented in partnership with Faida MaLi, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Tanzania Dairy Board. It is testing interventions aimed at enabling pre-commercial dairy farmers in Morogoro and Tanga to become more commercial through participation in dairy market hubs, where they can access inputs and services. The project is contributing to improved nutrition, income and food security of smallholder milk producing households in the country.