As most smallholder dairy farmers in Ethiopia do not have (direct) access to the market, they sell their raw milk to a cooperative, to the local market and consume it themselves. However, every Wednesday and Friday the Orthodox majority will have a fasting day, which means: no animal products. Milk is processed to butter and yoghurt to overcome these days and if the market price is well. The last months the price of butter had increased with 400%, which meant a good market price for the farmers (and traders).
To one of the larger dairy farms in this area I could pay a visit. Originated with support of external donations, cows were imported and of the pure Holstein breed. The milk yield used to be on average 14 litres a day, however, at this moment it was around 8 litres a day. As the cow shed is very old, the feed costs have increased a lot and the management of the farm is poor, the production had dropped. Cows are fed some oilseed cakes and local grasses. The price for production of milk is very clearly taken into account and the crops that are low priced in the market are sometimes bought to add to the feed, but inputs are kept low and regional. No concentrates are fed. At this moment, out of the 60 cows, only around 10 of them produce milk. Milking is done by hand, two times a day.
At the dairy farm, the milk was processed into yoghurt and fresh cheeses. As there is not that much milk every day, the small machines and two women can do the job. Even though the price of dairy products is that high in Amboo, there are no efforts to make a big increase in milk production. The manager of the whole enterprise (the dairy farm was one of the activities, besides growing crops, rearing other animals and managing an orphanage) told they would build a new stable and had to improve the management of the farm. After that, the milk production would increase. For now, the farm was running fine with low inputs and sufficient outputs. Interesting how a farm with sufficient resources makes choices not to go for higher production and can still keep on running!