Innovating the inclusion of female farmers in the dairy sector in Nigeria

In recent years, there have been significant advances in the use of digital innovations as a driving force in agriculture value chains. However, despite the increasing potential and penetration of such technologies, adoption by rural farmers, particularly women, continues to be low. They are unable to maximize their productivity, output, and income due to lack of reliable and timely access to reliable information.

In Nigeria, the partnership between FrieslandCampina WAMCO (FCW) and 2SCALE aims to support local production capacity and supply of fresh milk among the Fulani community. Promoting best practices and transparency in milk sourcing is key to achieving this goal. Consequently, Tech4Ag was contracted by 2SCALE in 2020 to support FCW to implement the trial of a digital application-mDairy – that supports the profiling of milk aggregators and farmers in a gender and age disaggregated format. It also keeps track of milk records and transactions made by all aggregators. This information is then linked to a payment platform which reduces the possibility of errors that can be made in manual recording and payment.

Being a demand-driven technology, an additional module “transporters’ profile” was added to the mDairy platform. This module was suggested by the Community livestock Workers and FCW’s Milk Collection officers.  

The mDairy App: viable, user friendly, and inclusive

The mDairy App is the first digital platform for dairy farmers in Nigeria. Farmers can be profiled in real-time thus providing digital identity for each farmer and milk aggregator.

The advent of this technology in Nigeria has enabled access to information by farmers and extension officers, as well as digitized the process of milk recording which was once paper-based and cumbersome. Oyewale Abioye-co-founder of mDairy narrates

mDairy has created transparency and accountability. Milk recording officers and farmers can now record milk supplied via their mobile phones. This data is critical to tracking and monitoring milk supplied by each farmer as well as for transparency and accountability along the dairy value chain. Farmers and extension officers can also access dairy information and best practices on animal health, milk hygiene, vaccination, and cross-breeding. This is a first for the dairy sector in Nigeria! 

To build the capacity of end-users, Tech4Ag facilitated a Training of Trainers to 43 dairy farmers and Milk Collection Officers from 9 Milk Collection Points and 5 Milk Collection Centres in Oyo State. A user manual was produced and distributed to all the participants, to enhance their ability to train other farmers.

The low rate of phone ownership among local communities is however inhibiting the spread.

Says Gbadegesin Alawode-co founder of Mdairy.

In response to this, a total of 20 female youth farmers received mobile tablets containing the mDairy App. This is aimed at improving digital literacy, awareness, and inclusion of women dairy farmers while boosting mobile phone ownership among them. They have received training also, to ensure ease of use of such a digital platform. 

The mDairy Application is end-user friendly as it is translated into local Nigerian languages. It can be used on any android device either online or offline, which creates efficiency for users in rural areas with limited internet connectivity. The customization into local languages and the demand-driven nature of the application have led to high adoptability as 43 farmers and 10 extension officers are active users.

Accelerating the development of MDairy through Crowdfunding

The Tech4Dairy Project was designed with funding support through the second phase of 2SCALE crowdfunding campaign in 2021. Despite being a first timer in raising funds through a crowd, the project surpassed the target funds.

It was a happy and joyous moment to have even reached and surpassed the target. At first, it looked as if it wasn’t going to be possible with occasional moments of fear when donations are yet to come in. But strategizing and re-strategizing so as to meet the target yielded the desired result. It was like our Eureka Moment! 

narrates Alawode. 

According to Alawode and Abioye this key milestone is a win for the dairy farmers, extension officers and processors in Nigeria and Africa, as this also accelerates the impact for the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. 

Building mDairy is an idea that was born in 2017, when we participated in the Dutch-Nigerian Student Challenge (DNSBC 2017). Since then, it has become a life mission. Our story is that of Grit, Perseverance and Unbroken passion. Having to understand the challenges faced daily by dairy farmers and processors and providing innovative solutions is most humbling. As a development and agricultural company, our mission is to unlock opportunities and improve nutritional and agricultural value chain in Africa through technology, innovation, research, and partnerships. We are committed to this and looking forward to scaling this solution to other parts of Nigeria and Africa.

The impact of the mDairy App on dairy farmers in Nigeria, particularly pastoral Fulani women is a key milestone towards building a transparent, inclusive, and sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria.

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