Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2257–2267 | Cite as

Assessing and managing intensification in smallholder dairy systems for food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Mizeck G. G. ChagundaEmail author
  • Agnes Mwangwela
  • Chisoni Mumba
  • Filomena Dos Anjos
  • Bettie S. Kawonga
  • Richard Hopkins
  • Linley Chiwona-Kartun
Original Article


Smallholder farmers play an important part in the dairy value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa. Three technological approaches have been used to improve productivity. These are through, applying agricultural ecological processes (ecological intensification), utilising modern livestock breeding (genetic intensification), and socio-economic intensification. Ecological intensification includes continuous housing of cows applying a cut-and-carry feeding system, introduction of purpose-bred forages and pastures, and the introduction of agro-forestry within the dairy systems. Genetic intensification strategies include: importation of dairy breeds such as Holstein–Friesian (HF) and cross-breeding of the indigenous breeds with HF. Training and capacity-building activities to create sustainable livelihoods have been initiated for farming and technological practices of animal husbandry, but also to enhance appropriate leadership and corporative-building skills that would create and support an enabling environment for sustainability. These improvements and initiatives in the service delivery have been championed by national governments, development partner institutions, or non-governmental organisations through different programmes. Challenges of intensification include matching management to genetic potential of imported and cross-bred improved dairy breeds, ensuring low post-harvest losses, proper utilisation, and reducing environmental impact. Using examples from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia, this paper reviews the management and assessment approaches used in fostering smallholder dairy development strategies and dairy’s contribution to sustainable livelihoods in the face of intensification.


Sustainable Intensification Smallholder Dairying 



The authors thank the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Food Security Initiative special support to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (UD15) and the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for support to SRUC through the Malawi project. SRUC receives financial support from the Scottish Government. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mizeck G. G. Chagunda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Agnes Mwangwela
    • 2
  • Chisoni Mumba
    • 3
  • Filomena Dos Anjos
    • 4
  • Bettie S. Kawonga
    • 2
  • Richard Hopkins
    • 5
  • Linley Chiwona-Kartun
    • 6
  1. 1.Future Farming Systems GroupSRUCEdinburghScotland, UK
  2. 2.Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)LilongweMalawi
  3. 3.Department of Disease ControlUniversity of ZambiaLusakaZambia
  4. 4.Veterinary FacultyEduardo Mondlane UniversityMaputoMozambique
  5. 5.Natural Resources InstituteUniversity of Greenwich at MedwayChatham Maritime, KentUK
  6. 6.Department of Urban and Rural DevelopmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

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