Through an innovation sprint sponsored by the United States and United Arab Emirates, Venture37 has been selected as a partner that’s working towards increased productivity and decreased methane emissions in the dairy sector through the Nourishing Prosperity Alliance.
Venture37 is proud to have been selected as an AIM for Climate (AIM4C) innovation sprint partner for our collaborative Nourishing Prosperity Alliance (NPA) project, which helps advance an inclusive and sustainable commercial market for climate-smart, nutrient dense forage for dairy cattle in Kenya, while increasing the availability of nutritious dairy products.
Announced at COP27, the Venture37-led NPA initiative was selected as a leading solution for addressing climate change and global hunger in the agriculture sector. Venture37 has been implementing the initiative in Kenya since 2020, in partnership with Corteva Agriscience, Forage Genetics International (FGI), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
What is an Innovation Sprint?
An AIM4C innovation sprint is a self-financed partnership to expedite climate-sensitive agriculture innovations that create lasting impact. AIM4C is a joint initiative by the United States and United Arab Emirates that seeks to address climate change and global hunger by facilitating innovative partnerships over the course of five years (2021 – 2025).
A Sprint for Reducing Dairy Cow Emissions in Kenya and Beyond
As one of the key culprits of global greenhouse gas emissions, the dairy industry requires radical re-imagining of how it operates on a global scale. Meanwhile, efforts to curb the impact of the industry must be balanced with the fact that the livestock industry is an important part of the economy in many countries and regions. In East Africa, for example, many people are critically linked to this industry that creates jobs, sustains families, boosts nutrition, and improves lives.
How to solve this paradox? For one, emission levels vary greatly depending on what and how cows are fed. In other words, the food that we feed livestock around the globe plays a critical role in how the industry is impacting our environment. Animal nutrition is therefore one key pathway forward that can make livestock systems more efficient and sustainable. By improving animal nutrition, farmers can boost dairy cows’ productivity and in turn reduce methane emissions per liter of milk. This would be a game changer for smallholder dairy farmers, who represent the majority of farmers across East Africa, but they currently struggle to access quality forage (animal feed) and therefore have milk yields far below what is achieved in other parts of the world.
The Nourishing Prosperity Alliance pilot launched in Kenya in 2020. It provides a scalable, market-wide solution to key gaps in the animal nutrition market to improve dairy production, boost climate resilience among farmers, increase access to animal-sourced foods, and reduce emissions.
Impact to Date and Ambition to Scale
A recent assessment of KNPA underscored the positive impact of participation for smallholder farmers:
- A 38 percentage point increase in smallholder farmers who are now growing improved forage varieties on their farms following training (from 33% prior to training to 71% after training)
- Smallholder farmers increased their average milk production by 46% (liters of milk produced annually)
- Smallholder farmers saw a 68% increase in average annual income per farmer
- Overall, the project led to an estimated reduction in GHG emissions intensity of 26%
Ideally, the pilot will lead to broader efforts in East Africa to replicate and scale this initiative, which can help work towards the global dairy industry’s goal of achieving Dairy Net Zero
— an initiative comprising nearly 40% of global milk production to cut net greenhouse gases to zero — or an equilibrium between the greenhouse gases put out into the atmosphere and those removed from the atmosphere.
“Improving the dairy sector’s efficiency and climatic impact is just one piece of the puzzle for our global approach to tackling climate change – but it’s an important one,” said Rebecca Chamberlin, Venture37’s Technical Advisor for Resilience and Climate Adaptation. “Through the AIM4C innovation sprint, we’re convening some of the best and brightest partners in the livestock and forage industries to re-imagine how dairy markets in East Africa can sustain a growing population, while reducing net emissions. We’re thrilled to be a part of this solution.”
Learn more about KNPA here.
Photo caption: Weighing forage sorghum in Machakos country, with the help of ILRI staff.