In Nairobi and Addis Ababa, Venture37 celebrated the launch of a new project investing in forage markets.
Venture37 celebrated the launch of the new NPA-FORAGE project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with an event on October 18 and 19 in Nairobi, Kenya and October 24 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The events brought together businesses with an interest in the forage sector, including Corteva Agriscience, Forage Genetics International, Advanta Seeds, Unga East Africa Ltd, Kenya Highland Seed, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), to showcase their investments and upcoming opportunities in forage market development.
In Kenya, Ambassador Margaret (Meg) Whitman, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, participated in a fireside chat with Venture37, underscoring the need for greater investment in Kenya. Ambassador Whitman emphasized, "One in every three working aged people in 2050 will be on the African continent, so if you run a business in the United States, you’re going to have to figure out what you’re going to do here; and I think agriculture and livestock is a key opportunity area.”
In Ethiopia, the Ministry of Agriculture underscored the synergies between a new national initiative for livestock and NPA-FORAGE. “The Ethiopian Prime Minister has launched a new national nutrition scheme, Yelemat Turufat, intended to improve diets at the household level and increase the consumption of dairy. This project directly aligns with and advances this national initiative.” stated Dr. Asrat Tera, Director General of the Livestock Development Institute.
Dr. Getnet Assefa, Program Director for NPA-FORAGE, celebrates the launch with Dr. Namukulo Covic, the ILRI Director General's Representative to Ethiopia.
Livestock is key for economic development as well as food and nutrition security in the region. Yet productivity of livestock is extremely low, in large part due to limited feed resources. Increasing availability and access to forage as a source of animal feed is increasingly important in the face of climate change. Recent droughts across East Africa led to widespread shortages in feed and forage, leading to dramatic declines in dairy productivity and significant animal losses. The development of forage markets will also be an important pathway for inclusive growth, given the essential role of women in dairy production in feeding their cows, as well as the opportunities in the sector for youth.
The NPA-FORAGE project will reduce the forage deficit for small-scale dairy producers, especially during the dry season. As result of having more widely available, high-quality forage, the project supports increased dairy productivity to boost the supply of milk available to local processors.
NPA-FORAGE is aligned with national climate change commitments and contributes to sustainable intensification in the dairy sector. NPA’s pilot activity in Kenya has been recognized as an AIM for Climate (AIM4C) innovation sprint, announced at COP27, and contributes towards the global dairy industry’s goal of achieving Dairy Net Zero — an initiative comprising nearly 40 percent of global milk production to cut net greenhouse gases to zero.
Given the scale of the challenge, NPA-FORAGE functions as a platform for partners to invest in forage markets. Project partners will also collaborate to tackle key policy and regulatory issues and promote inclusive growth across the sector, designing activities to primarily train women producers and support women in business in the sector.