June 1, 2022
By Sydney Maanibe
Sydney Maanibe is a Program Manager at Land O’Lakes Venture37 based in Arden Hills, Minnesota, and is part of the Project Manager team for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project.
Driven by excess greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as methane, carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrous oxide, climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. Transforming weather patterns and threatening food production, the impact is truly devastating. Globally, agriculture, forestry, and land use account for 18.4% of total GHG emissions. In Eastern Africa, agricultural emissions represent 34% of Africa’s overall agricultural emissions; approximately 80% of that comes from livestock.
This year, #WorldMilkDay focuses on efforts to accelerate climate action and help reduce the dairy sector’s impact on the planet. An important climate action indicator for the dairy industry is emissions intensity, which is defined as the amount of GHG emissions required to make one liter of milk. When productivity goes up, emissions intensity goes down. So by increasing productivity, the dairy sector can reduce its overall GHG emissions, helping to limit its effects on climate change.
In Tanzania, the importance of reducing emissions intensity is especially critical. Tanzania has the second largest cattle herd in Eastern Africa but is the least efficient milk producer, producing approximately 2.2 billion liters of milk per year by a herd of 28.8 million cattle and emitting a current average emissions intensity of approximately 7-9 kilograms of CO2 eq per kg. In comparison, current emissions intensity in North America is around 1-2 kg of CO2 eq per kg.
Emissions intensity is clearly a problem in Tanzania, but the country’s dairy farmers face several challenges that limit their ability to improve their animals’ productivity. These include limited access to high-quality affordable nutrition products and other inputs that can prevent diseases such as parasite control and vaccines, insufficient advisory services, and poor animal genetics.
Recognizing these challenges and their contributions to emissions intensity, the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Challenge Productivity Project is using a Pay-for-Results prize competition to encourage private sector input suppliers to deliver high-quality inputs — nutrition products, vaccines, parasite control products and artificial insemination services — and advisory services to smallholder farmers. By providing a cash prize for each bundle of high-quality inputs delivered, the competition aims to increase animal productivity, boost smallholder farmers’ income, and strengthen value chain relationships between dairy producers and the formal dairy sector.
After two years, AgResults competitors have sold more than 50,000 productivity-enhancing input bundles, supporting the provision of nutrition supplements, enhancing animal genetics, and using vaccinations as well as parasite control products to improve animal health. Smallholder farmers have noted a direct improvement in animal productivity and overall health due to the enhanced inputs and services they have received. Some have indicated that they have seen a doubling or even tripling of milk volumes from their animals.
It’s still too early to tell how these input bundles will impact emissions intensity and much harder to attribute any shifts directly to the AgResults competition. But it is efforts like this that will help to move the needle in a positive direction on dairy productivity, emissions intensity, and eventually on GHG emissions.