Engineering professional, climate-smart dairy farming

Dairy is potentially a cash cow for farmers, but often it is unable to live up to expectations. Optimizing production can make it more climate-smart and sustainable. Professionalizing the whole value chain is the key to success and the reason why business development is relevant for farmers, service providers, fodder producers and dairy processors. Solidaridad is catalyzing and supporting this using tailored methods in different countries.

Number of producers supported


Head of cattle under sustainable management



In Bangladesh, Solidaridad has continued to make progress with 17,000 farmers and their families by building capacity, developing market linkages and engaging new SMEs as service providers. This is the starting point for further development of the sector through businesses such as dairy hubs and commercial dairy farms formed by groups of farmers.

In Myanmar, Solidaridad developed a dairy programme with private partners in Shan State and the Netherlands with a mission to develop a new settlement of medium-scale dairy farms. While dairy production was originally concentrated around the main cities, climate and the availability of land and labour are advantages for developing an economically viable dairy sector. The programme is due to start in 2018.

For the World Bank, Solidaridad developed a vision for climate-smart dairy development in Ethiopia. A definitive report will be published in 2018 with the vision, development approach, business calculations and estimated impact on climate and land use. The outcome complements the role Solidaridad is playing as a catalyst. The World Bank will use the results to guide new investments in the Ethiopian dairy sector.

Solidaridad is also working on further partnerships with local and international dairy companies in countries including India, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • South & South-east Asia

    The Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages Programme supported 18,263 smallholders to improve farm productivity and supply quality milk through the adoption of sustainable practices. Dairy farmers reduced farming costs while increasing their income through selling more milk at a higher price. Alongside dairy farmers, a number of community members have started fodder production as a means of income. The programme has also established five fodder markets in the Narail and Jessore districts.


In Bangladesh, Solidaridad has reached producer groups representing 18,000 farmers in the last four years, concentrating on SME development for services and linking farmers with the market. This has been the groundwork for the further professionalization of the dairy sector. In 2017, the first Dairy Producer Companies were formed, in which a group of farmers merge their cattle herds to create a bigger and more professional dairy farm.

The formal market in developing countries is growing, but only a limited number of small farmers are participating. Lack of volume per farmer and poor quality often hinder business and market development. Even countries with large cattle herds are importing milk powder when trade tariffs permit. Moreover, inefficiency and a lack of fodder during the dry season have a negative impact on climate and land use. As cattle herds grow, experts expect climate and deforestation problems will increase.

Solidaridad aims to make the dairy sector sustainable and meet demand in the market by increasing professionalization in the dairy sector through partnership and business development, improvements to services and capacity building. Solidaridad will help smallholders to improve their farm and create opportunities for new middle-class dairy farms with a 100% income for one or more families.


Solidaridad partners consist of mainly local leaders, such as BRAC in Bangladesh. Solidaridad is also investigating potential partnerships in programmes with global dairy companies such as FrieslandCampina. In dairy programmes, Solidaridad is partnering with many local service providers and feed companies.

Solidaridad is an advisor to the Dairy Sustainability Framework and finished an internal study with Wageningen UR (research university) into the roles and responsibilities of multinationals in developing countries.


Developing a capital and technology-intensive dairy sector requires a dedicated approach that addresses issues as wide-ranging as capacity building, business development, investment programmes, services, finance and securing the market. The SaFaL programme in Bangladesh shows the potential dairy development has to make a real impact on family incomes and achieve structural change. New partnerships and prospective programmes reflect the interest and belief in Solidaridad’s business-oriented, inclusive and sustainable approach. The challenge for the future is to develop more programmes with partners in the dairy sector.

Catharinus Wierda

International Programme Coordinator, Dairy