Maziwa Zaidi past, present and future: reflecting on an inclusive dairy development initiative in Tanzania

Blog post

Maziwa Zaidi (MZ) aims to create a coherent Tanzania country program out of various separately managed dairy value chain research for development (R4D) projects implemented by various individuals and organizations. By joining forces, it aims to make them worth more than the sum of the parts.

The MZ program integrates research components from CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) on Livestock with food safety and nutrition elements linked to the CRP on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) with actions in the value chains.

MZ envisions an inclusive and sustainable development of the smallholder dairy value chain in Tanzania by 2023; in other words, to ensure more milk by and for the poor in Tanzania. To achieve this aim, it tests solutions to overcome constraints related to poor cattle genetics, scarcity of feeds, poor animal health, limited access to input and output markets and services; and low access to quality, safe, and nutritious dairy products.

The MZ policy forum held on 23-24 May 2017 to capitalize on five years of research-for-development investment and results provided an opportune moment for partners to reflect on the past five years as well as to look ahead. Here I want to share the results of my own reflections on the MZ program up to this point.

At the broader partnerships level, I recall the enthusiasm and high expectations of the research and development partners that greeted the onset of the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) that five years ago settled on catalyzing the transformation of the smallholder dairy value chains in Tanzania. Derived from the CRP on Livestock (formerly Livestock and Fish), the MZ approach of testing appropriate solutions to upgrade the smallholder dairy value chain appealed to many participants.

Vibrant partnerships at different levels

Underlying the high expectations was the opportunity and commitment by various CGIAR and other international and national research and development organizations to work with value chain actors and across various disciplines in a concerted manner and orientation towards more explicit impacts on livelihoods using value chain development as entry points. The approach provided an opportunity to use the capacities across these partnerships more effectively. Vibrant activities at local pilot sites and at the national level were anticipated and started to happen, thanks to bilateral funding from several donors including Irish Aid and IFAD, in the initial stages.  I have always been attracted towards collaborative interdisciplinary and holistic approaches in my professional life, and so welcomed the opportunity to be actively involved.

Though the initial upward trend in CGIAR and bilateral funding for the MZ value chain approach appeared to be declining by May 2017 the many opportunities identified for public and private investments and scaling across the 35 posters shared at the forum will hopefully help to reverse the decline.

Trust through sustained collaboration

As was noted during the first MZ theory of change refection workshop held at the end of 2016, there is now more trust than ever before among R&D partners given the close interactions among them over the past five years. The increased trust among partners has enhanced the desire to collaboratively generate and share knowledge whose benefits have begun to emerge. These relationships should translate into even more concerted efforts to improve dairy dependent livelihoods in Tanzania. The Dairy Development Forum, initiated under MZ and now poised to be formally registered as a private sector stakeholder driven organization following a decision taken at its 8th convening on 29 May 2017 in Kagera during the national Milk Week, should provide the institutional fulcrum to galvanize momentum for development of the dairy industry.

New opportunities

On the research side, the current gaps in funding to sustain the required level of concerted research efforts will hopefully be short-lived and existing projects funded through resources from BMGF, USAID, among others will be complemented with new funds that help to integrate the various pieces to enhance effectiveness for overall continued value chain development. The additional resources will be needed to test new solutions and enhance uptake of existing MZ approaches.

Additional new opportunities for uptake of research findings are likely to appear as implementation of the second phase of the Agriculture Sector Development Program (ASDP-2) gets underway.  The policy forum already suggested some specific lessons relevant to ASDP-2’s components 2 and 3. These and other suggested opportunities for investments and scaling from the forum are underpinned by rich publications in journals and other publications (openly accessible through CGSpace and other outlets). The detailed outputs underlying the forum presentations will soon be made accessible through a single portal to be named I wish to thank all contributors to these publications. Their enthusiasm to showcase various institutional and technological innovations that can be taken to scale at the policy forum was evidence of the continuing enthusiasm for this approach of strengthening R4D.

Looking to the future

With the last five years behind us, what can we anticipate over the next five years and beyond? The list could be quite long but here are a few thoughts:

  • Catalyzing the transformation of the smallholder dairy value chain in Tanzania continues to be a focus of the new CRP on LIVESTOCK. Therefore, going forward, priority should be placed on attracting more investments in support of ASDP-2, the main policy processthat will guide agricultural development efforts in Tanzania over the next decade. Priority for fund raising aimed at contributing to CRP targets should directly contribute to those of ASDP-2 because they are already aligned. It is anticipated that integrated interventions can be developed from various products being developed for delivery from upstream research supported by the CRP towards this goal.
  • The Tanzania Livestock Master Plan that was completed in early 2017 provides an opportunity to attract more resources for the MZ program given the attractive projected returns on investments across dairy and other livestock value chains over the next 15 years to 2031. Efforts should be made to exploit this evidence in fund raising efforts.
  • The lessons from MZ may be relevant for other agricultural commodity value chains as well. Given the increasing emphasis for more integrated agricultural commodity systems approaches, MZ partners should explore opportunities for synergies across various agri-food commodity systems where its lessons can be extended to improving livelihoods, especially targeting higher income and better nutrition outcomes. If this happens, Maziwa Zaidi may then graduate to Vyakula Zaidi!

I have no doubt staff in current MZ implementing organizations (ILRI, CIAT, SUA, TALIRI, TDB, Heifer-Tanzania, Faida MaLi) and potential new partners such as ANSAF will continue to come and go as has been happening. Hopefully, these organizations should continue to carry forward the vision of MZ to achieve an inclusive and sustainable development of the dairy value chain by 2023.

I think the MZ approach of testing of interventions with partners has begun to irreversibly catalyze the inclusive public and private co-investments towards the envisaged widespread innovation along the smallholder dairy value chains that should make the sub-sector realize is potential from the current low contribution to Tanzania’s GDP of only 1.5% towards four to five times that amount already achieved by some of its neighbors. I trust appropriate funding will become available to continue to motivate deeper engagement in the MZ program to strengthen its future contributions to evidence-based dairy development to and sustain the progress towards achieving the program’s aims.

Download a report of the meeting

See also:

Maziwa Zaidi outputs 2012-2016

Maziwa Zaidi outputs 2017 –

See past stories on CGIAR livestock work in Tanzania