U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a major expansion of U.S. government investment in Malawi on Sunday, during a visit to the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group (MBG). Lumbadzi MBG is one of 23 dairy producer groups that Land O'Lakes International Development assisted throughout the course of its recently completed Malawi Dairy Development Alliance (MDDA), a 5-year public-private alliance made possible by the American People through the U.S. Agency for International Development.
At the event, Secretary Clinton announced that the U.S. government would be investing an additional $46 million into agricultural value chains. She also provided the members of the Lumbadzi group with a purebred dairy bull named Emanuel, and inaugurated a liquid nitrogen network to help dairy farmers continue improving their herd through improved breeding.
"For the past decade, the United States has been supporting Malawi's dairy sector, including this center. And thanks to [Lumbadzi's] work and the support we have given you, Malawi's milk production has increased 500 percent," noted Secretary Clinton. Lumbadzi has 206 farmer-members, more than half of whom are women. Through a heifer pass-on program, which was a part of the USAID/Land O'Lakes MDDA program, Lumbadzi's farmers received 89 pure bred cattle since 2005. Farmers also benefited from a wide array of training programs that helped them improve their productivity and milk yields.
In total, the $5.7 million MDDA program helped reduce poverty and hunger for some 14,000 individuals, by enabling farmers to form into MBGs such as Lumbadzi, where they could access credit, inputs and markets. The program made 1,600 cows available to farmers and provided thousands with training to improve animal care and feeding. More than 4,000 people adopted new farming technologies and management practices, including fodder conservation to help get them through the dry season. Of the 23 MBGs, seven have now formally established themselves as cooperatives.
Secretary Clinton also lauded the impact that U.S. government support has had on improving HIV/AIDS awareness through these MBGs. "I'm also proud that we see a partnership with PEPFAR [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief], so people can also receive HIV testing and counseling services here."
Through MDDA, Land O'Lakes worked to raise awareness about HIV through MBG structures, with messaging reaching over 16,700 farmers. In addition, MDDA worked with 17 of the 23 Milk Bulking groups – including Lumbadzi – to donate fresh milk to 27 separate feeding programs that benefited orphans and vulnerable children. In total, MDDA facilitated 15,000 liters of fresh milk, which were provided to 3,500 children.
Through MDDA, Land O'Lakes and leading Malawian dairy farmers developed radio programs that delivered educational messages on topics such as animal husbandry and marketing. The program also facilitated farmers' access to mobile banking services, livestock insurance products, and extension text messages through cell phones over the ESOKO.com network.
Since the program started, smallholder milk production exceeded 15 million liters. Over 70 percent of that milk reached processors. For 3,400 smallholder farmers now connected to the value chain, their incomes increased an average of 41 percent during the five-year program.
Land O'Lakes is working in other parts of Malawi through a new Food for Progress program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In two eastern districts of Central Malawi, Land O'Lakes will assist 51,000 severely food insecure farmers, particularly women, to learn best practices for raising small livestock and producing rice and cassava.
Land O'Lakes, Inc. (www.landolakesinc.com) is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative with annual sales of nearly $13 billion. The nation's second-largest cooperative and number 210 on the Fortune 500, Land O'Lakes does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Operating as a not-for-profit division of the cooperative, since 1981, Land O'Lakes International Development has improved the quality of life for millions of people in 76 nations through more than 275 projects worldwide that are generating economic growth, improving health and nutrition, and alleviate poverty by facilitating market-driven business solutions.