Milk: An entrepreneurial approach to dairy transformation

The Tadu Dairy Cooperative business model supports traditional women dairy farmers in Cameroon, and provides not only milk but processed dairy products. Increased milk production has not only helped to reduce imports of dairy products but has led to the establishment of many new shops selling feed for cattle

Workers processing milk into cheese and yoghurts at Tadu Dairy  © Tadu Dairy COOPERATIVE

Shang Patu Jume, a biochemist by trade, set up Tadu Dairy Cooperative in Kumbo, Northwest of Cameroon in 2010. Starting out with an initial capital of just under €1,000; today Tadu branded dairy products are now household names, producing processed milk, cheese and yoghurt. The impact of the multi-purpose cooperative provides over 300 smallholder dairy farmers with access to new breeds, improved production practices and modern value-adding technologies. 

The project has been working in close partnership with the NGO, Land O’Lakes, and USAID to develop a quality/quantity milk production, collection, processing and marketing programme to sell beyond Cameroon to other countries in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. Cooperative members also receive training at Land O’Lakes in artificial insemination techniques which resulted in the establishment of a cattle cross-breeding programme. Adequate crossbreeding stations have been created with the assistance of the Smallholder Dairy Development Project, which also provided critical pieces of dairy equipment and infrastructure, including water and electrical supply networks and adapted milk collection and transformation facilities.

Unlike other Cameroonian companies processing milk products, the cooperative doesn’t use imported milk, but instead carries out its own milk production. The local Mbororo women from the Bui region, who make up 75% of the dairy farmers, supply the Tadu milk processing factory with some 3,000 l of milk daily. “Our farmers and dairy employees have been trained on improved hygiene during the milking and processing phases (thermal treatment, packaging and storage) and entire dairy production chain,” Jume explains.

The agribusiness project benefitted from a grant from the government’s Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative programme through the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries in 2010. Since then, milk production in the country has substantially increased from 48,000 to 184,000 t in 2015, thanks to the Tadu project. Increased production has not only helped to reduce the importation of milk products into Cameroon, but has also triggered the creation of many shops in the area selling a large selection of feed such as cotton, palm kernel and soya bean cake.

The Cooperative’s products are presently sold throughout Cameroon and in some parts of Nigeria, but Jume’s plans don’t stop there: “Our vision is to see how we can expand diary production growth and development in Africa through small and medium size enterprises. I have helped set up dairy women’s groups in several communities in my locality as well as in several countries in Africa including Benin, The Gambia and Namibia,” she says.  

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Elias Ntungwe

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.