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Cochran Fellows Utilize Technology to Expand Knowledge of Herd Management and Breeding Techniques

Dairy production provides a large portion of total household income for many farming families in East Africa. Due to the increasing demand for high-quality milk and milk products, dairy cows are a valuable and profitable asset for these families. Many dairy producers, however, lack the required training, technical skills or experience needed to maximize dairy output, maintain animal health and grow sustainable dairy markets.

In direct response to this need, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cochran Fellowship Program developed a project to improve herd management and breeding techniques through an intensive training period with six Fellows from Feed the Future focus countries Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The training opportunity was implemented in partnership with the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and took place over two weeks in Madison.

Utilizing innovative technology, hands-on laboratory training, visits to local farms and lectures by experts on the latest techniques in dairy farm management, the training agenda was developed around the Fellows’ interest in building their knowledge of artificial insemination and enhanced breeding techniques, genetic improvements, milk quality and production, and animal feed.

The group consisted of veterinarians, dairy farm managers and technicians who represented a mix of government ministries, universities and dairy cooperatives in their respective countries. These dairy stakeholders have recently returned home, where they will implement individual action plans and share the information they have gained with others involved in the dairy industry.

“Professionally, the Cochran Fellowship has opened a new beginning for me, my co-operative and my country,” says Emmanual Swai, a Cochran alumnus from Tanzania. “We will utilize what we gained for the benefit of our people and the dairy industry as a whole.”

The Cochran Fellowship Program provides short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle-income countries, emerging markets and emerging democracies. Fellows travel to the United States for approximately two to three weeks to meet with U.S. universities, government agencies and private companies. They receive hands-on training to enhance their technical knowledge and skills in areas related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy and marketing. In FY2014 the Cochran Program trained 60 individuals from 16 Feed the Future focus countries.