GFAR blog

YAP Proposal #236: Improving cow pen hygiene (Gloria Banda, Malawi)


My name is Gloria Banda aged 24, I graduated with a BSc in animal science from the University of Malawi, Bunda College in 2013, and quickly enrolled for a master’s program in animal science in March 2014 with the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bunda campus. Currently, am finalizing my MSc research.

In the dairy industry, the quality of milk is highly important because it is the key raw material for production of safe and high standard milk and milk products. Unfortunately, 17% out of 80% of milk produced by smallholder dairy farmers and subsequently collected by milk processors is rejected at milk collection centers because of poor quality in Malawi.

Poor milk quality increases spoilage of milk and decreases quantity on the market due to rejections at milk collection centers. The overall result is reduced returns and thus less ideal for these smallholder dairy farmers who depend on milk sales to obtain income to support their families.

Through my MSc research which was implemented in 2014/21015 dry and rainy season, I helped smallholder dairy Farmers maintain milk quality from the farm to milk collection centers through a training on milk hygiene. Apart from the training, farmers were also supported with startup cement to construct cow pens with concrete floors.

The underlying assumption is that concrete is easy to clean, impervious and dries quickly hence farmers will find it easy to keep the cow environment clean and at the same time minimize milk and udder contamination from environmental bacteria that deteriorates milk quality.

This project will help to increase smallholder dairy farmer’s income by improving milk quality while reducing the number milk rejections at milk collection centers through improved cow pen hygiene.

The project will train 250 farmers in four milking bulking groups on milk hygiene and 100 farmers, 20 farmers from each Milking Bulking Group will be supported with startup cement, but other costs related to labour and other resources such as quarry and sand will be covered by the farmers themselves.

To ensure sustainability of the project, a farmers will get three bags of cement on loan and will be required to pay back the three bags of cement to another farmer, a process called pass-on program. To ensure the effectiveness of the pass-on program a certain percentage of money which will be agreeable at the MBG will deducted from the participating farmers each month they are delivering milk to the bulking group.

In a period of 5 months, the project will be able to show meaningful progress in milk quality and reduced number of milk rejection at Milk collection centers.

What motivates me to do this project is the experience I will gain through working with these smallholder farmers and the positive impact it has on milk quality and increasing income returns to the farmers.


Through my MSc research I trained 60 smallholder dairy farmers on milk hygiene and only 30 farmers were supported with   startup cement to construct cow pens with concrete floors. And then, my work involved assessing the effect of floor type (concrete –intervention group and earthen floor-control group) on milk quality and mastitis prevalence rate in the five Milk Bulking Groups (MBGs).

The five bulking groups were Nachambo, Midzembe, Mpemba, Mangunda and Chisitu. My interest in writing this proposal is to take advantage of the seed fund ($5000) to increase the number of beneficiaries. It should be noted these are the same MBGs that I plan to upscale the project.

Measurable indicators include: number of milk rejections at the milk collection centers due to poor milk quality, Bacterial count in raw milk, Prevalence of subclinical mastitis and finally, number of farmers trained on milk hygiene.

To achieve my goal, I will need $5000 which will be used as follows;

300 bags of cement: $3 100;
Transportation costs of cement: $500;
Conduct training of lead farmers: $600
Stationery costs: $400;
Operational costs: $500.

Blogpost and picture submitted by Gloria Banda (Malawi) – bandagloria4[at]

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

This post is published as proposal #236 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:

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Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!
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“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.

102 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #236: Improving cow pen hygiene (Gloria Banda, Malawi)”

  1. Nice initiative Gloria. Dairy farmers could indeed reap the benefits of their sweat through this project. However, much as I am not a animal scientist, but I do think milk quality is but a function of many other factors, among them, feed. Does your project have any plans to assist the farmers in that regard?

    1. Thank you very much for you comment , indeed milk quality is affected by so many factors and as you have mentioned, feed is one of the factors but for this proposal i will address issues to do with bacteria contamination only

  2. This is a great idea Gloria! it’s unfortunate that an average Malawian drinks less than 6 litres of milk annually. i think your idea may help make milk more readily available in our country.

    1. Sure edwin, our milk production is already low and with poor milk quality it makes it worse, just a few litres for processing, I believe minimizing milk contamination at the farm level can help to reduce the number of rejections at the milk collection centres hence increase more milk for processing

  3. That’s an interesting proposal. Cow pen Hygiene is very crucial for dairy farmers!!!

  4. way to go Gloria.hope you get your pen designs i would suggest you include a shed especially over the feeders to retain the nutritive value of feed that might be lost due to heat effects in fresh grass.

    1. Sure Tewa! shed is also very important and for the sheds will just encourage the farmers to use locally available resources such as grass to use for roofing

  5. keep it up gloria and lets help these smallholder farmers realise their potentil

    1. Thanks chimbika!indeed there is potential in smallholder dairying all that is needed is to prevent some losses that are incurred due to poor management

  6. Nice proposal. This project will hugely benefit the farmers and malawi as a country. As many of its problem are a direct results of lack of knowledge o issues like these

  7. wow this is exactly wat is required to improve the welfare of malawian farmers, lets support her please.

  8. It’s a good project and it’ll help the smalholder farmers alot. Milk rejection has been a major problem to the farmers among others. Keep it up and complete the project.

    1. You’re right William, milk rejection is a very big issue among smallholder dairy farmers and if not intervened farmers will incur huge losses due to discarded milk

  9. Good proposal, i like the pass-on idea of construction materials; however your proposal should indicate the tentative period as to how long it will take for a participating farmer to pay off the cement loan. Secondly your results on milk quality could also be affiliated to the fact that farmers tend to add water to the milk to increaae volume. Quality of the milk can also be compromised in the vessels that farmers use when delivering the milk to bulking points. How are you going to address these factors?

    1. Thanks khwima, of course there has to be an agreeable period as to how long will it take for a farmer to pay back the loan so that other farmers should benefit as well.
      secondly, issues to do with adulteration which is simply deberate addition of substances such as water to increase milk volume are delt with at the milk collection centers, Lactometer test is normally used to detect such malpractice and may even lead to panalization.
      thirdly khwima I agree sometimes milk quality can be compromised if the equipments used to handle the milk are not clean and this is why I will also train the farmers on milk hygiene and the topic encompas such issues so that milk quality Is not compromised in any way from the farm to milk collection centers

  10. Great idea. On top of this encourage the farmers to be cleaning the cemented floors. Others do not even though cemented. Tried the cement idea with a certain international NGO but we registered high rates of defalters. Even though was on pass on basis, farmers didn’t honour. How do u intend to reduce this?? Suggesting deducting the money via the bank accounts they receive. What’s your stand?? Otherwise, it’s a great great project.

    1. Thanks Deniwe, sure will encourage the farmers to clean the cow pens otherwise the concrete is just there to facilitate cleaning.
      as to honoring the pass on program I will still use the approach that I used during my research, all the deductions will be done at the bulking group, well it should be noted that all the activities of the pass- on will be coordinated by the executive committees of the bulking groups since they are the ones who know the people very wel hence its even easier for them to identify people to entrust with the loan in the first olace

  11. Great proposal Gloria, as a dairy farmer myself, your proposal is closer home and pen hygiene is one of the significant factors which has an ultimate effect on the income of the smallholder farmers. Good luck !!!

  12. Milk quality deserves the effort you are providing. Your concentration on the small holder milk bulking groups, is not only a small step toward the provision of good quality milk to the consumers, but also a way to increase milk supplied directly to the industries, by the smallholder farmers. Most farmers deny to leave milk at bulking groups, claiming setbacks due to quality.
    Thumbs up Grolia!!!

  13. That’s a good proposal Gloria. This will really be beneficial to smallholder dairy farmers.

  14. This is a wow thing !! very exciting. Hygiene is really one of the determinants of good quality milk. This project receives some stars from me. Good work Gloria.

  15. Good work. Personally believe Malawian dairy farmers and their communities will benefit greatly from.this initiative

  16. Well crafted proposal. But there is a need to come up with excellent methodology to ensure the continuity of the pass-on-program in order to benefit more daily farmers.

    1. Thanks Bon, personally i thought working with the executive committee was a good approach but stil,l there room for am improvement

  17. Gloria. What is the take home message to farmers or to the general public on the plans you have for the dairy industry in Malawi.

  18. Gloria that’s an interesting idea. If i happen to be one of your farmers benefiting from your project, how would you/the project make sure that i use the cement for construction of concrete floor in the cow pen and not my dwelling house?

    1. Am going to monitor all the activities through out the process ,starting with getting cement to concrete making otherwise some people may use the cement for different purposes.

  19. Thats the way to go!.. we need that high quality milk and the farmers will surly be motivated should milk rejections get reduced…good luck!

  20. Gloria it seems peoplen have really liked your innovations… Can you help me construct a similar pen on my farm late in the year?

  21. nice project ,but how sustainable is the project considering that you giving resources to farmers (handouts)?

  22. Nice work Gloria, I am impressed by your work. I like the idea of helping the farmers with cement, because sometimes such issues are undermined, I hope the issue of cement subsidy or the pass on program can be taken into consideration in diary farming. Make sure the project you have started should be sustainable. All the best.

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