The Nronga Women’s Co-op is found in the shadows of Mt Kilimanjoro, about 1500m above sea level in a lush yet poor corner of Tanzania. The potential for agriculture is seen all about you but it takes start up seed monies and technical know-how to help people get mini industries established in a region that has only ever known subsistence living.
One home industry that has begun to thrive is dairy farming. Initially cows were kept as manure for the banana farming till 50 years ago they were advised to use dairy cows and sell the milk. Gradually families bought one or two family cows that the women could milk and use the profit for their children’s education or basic home needs.
Now this home industry is taking root and has built a self-generated income stream for hundreds of local women. About thirty years ago, some of the women in this little region started a co-op that initially shared responsibility for taking their products to market (fresh milk and bananas). Fresh milk only has a 3-4 hour life span so it was a time consuming exercise to daily travel the 2 hours to and from market with no assurance of selling the product! Gradually this small group of women grew to 400 women and started to develop ideas of pasteurising and producing other milk products.
Today the Nronga Dairy Co-operative processes 800 litres milk per day into fermented milk, yoghurt and butter. All of the processing is manual from lighting a fire to heat the milk, testing temperatures for heat levels, stirring the butter and packing the packets of milk. The profits are shared and women are bi-monthly paid for the milk they bring daily into the dairy. On top of this, 10% milk product is given away to local primary schools where the children are sadly lacking in calcium and regularly come to school hungry.
But for the past two years this same group of women has a new passion – they have invited a further 4 co-ops (organised based on their own model) to build a mechanised processing plant that can handle 5000 litres milk per day. Working alongside the Tanzanian Dairy Board (TDB), they have almost achieved their goal.
What have they completed so far for the new dairy?
- A location, building and shop front in the middle of Boma (easily accessible town for dairy producers)
- The majority of the plant equipment installed and ready to go
- Technical support from TDB
- Workers for the dairy when operational
What do they need?
They have two outstanding needs to complete the project:
- Reserve water supply (critical component for processing milk but an unreliable daily source) in the form of two 10,000 litre underground tanks, a raised 10,000 litre elevated tank with a pump that overnight ensures water levels in the raised tank are maximised
- A back up power generator to ensure a constant electricity supply
The money for this project has been recently raised. Please email Kelley for more information.