Home / Research projects / ARF Projects / ARF-3.2 Enhancing safety and quality of milk in Ethiopia

Enhancing safety and quality of milk in Ethiopia

ARF-3-2f Ethiopia Healthy Cows
Image: via Flickr (by: Bioversity)

Duration: 03 July 2017 to 01 October 2020

Project information

Aim: This project “Healthy Cows – Healthy Food – Healthy Environment: Enhancing safety and quality of milk in Ethiopia with a focus on antibiotic residues” aims at enhancing milk quality and the position of women in dairy farming in Ethiopia. The project will implement and embed the best practices worldwide for producing healthy milk in Ethiopia. Using Ethiopean experience in community based breeding systems to develop a more resilient cow, using Indian knowledge of medicinal herbs for reduction of the use of antibiotic to enforce Ethiopean ethnoveterinary knowledge, educate women to tend herbal gardens to make herbal remedies for extra income and using training of trainers in residue analysis from the Netherlands to set up a National training facility for residue analysis.

Objectives: This is a collaboration project towards a system change in dairy farming in Ethiopia, in which the dominant focus on increasing milk quantity for the growing population is strategically combined with improving milk quality – and involving women in tending animals health by using herbal remedies.  The overall goal of this proposal therefore is: To enhance safety and quality of milk in Ethiopia through applied research & capacity building at four levels:

  1. Empowering of women to get income out of herbal gardens selling herbs to improve animal health leading to production of residue-free milk, and,
  2. Training of trainers for milk quality control,
  3. Establishing baseline data on residues and
  4. Raising awareness on AMR.

The project aims to stimulate innovation by: (1) piloting the Centre of Expertise for Natural Livestock Farming (NLF) strategy to produce milk without chemical residues and (2) strengthening the capacity for milk quality control (3) empowering women to grow and process herbs for remedies to heal cattle and reduce the use of antibiotics.

Method: Improving milk quality is done through education (training of trainers) and implementing of appropriate milk quality testing techniques and is combined with data gathering and field-pilots with a strategy towards producing residue-free milk. Growing medicinal herbs which can supply extra income for women will be used to reduce the use of antibiotics. Both processes, and the inter-linkages between them, will require a minimum of three years. Co-creation of knowledge and sciences is achieved through interaction between farmers’ and scientists within Ethiopia, Netherlands and India.

Country: Ethiopia.

Dutch policy goals: Promoting inclusive and sustainable growth in the agricultural sector; Creating ecologically sustainable food systems.

Progress reports

Year 1: At community level a participatory base line on cattle health management in the two selected peri-urban communities revealed extremely high mortality rates among calves (average 73% and 56%), with mortality of adult cows at 16% and 18%. Calf death occurs especially at (very) young age due to weakness and diarrhea – with calf blindness as an additional symptom. A more detailed study is in progress to register the severity of these at individual farmers. High mortality rates are linked to problems in cattle feeding and management: the animals are kept indoors, tied with very limited space, problems with water and feed quantity and quality, as well as general hygiene. The continued crossbreeding with Holstein-Friesian cattle seems to further enhance this problem. Use of antibiotics in these communities is currently relatively low, due to lack of veterinary services. Meanwhile, the frequent contamination of cattle feed with Aflatoxines may be one of the underlying causes of cattle mortality encountered. The rapid growth of veterinary colleges (1 ->10) may result in too many practitioners in the future, which is expected to cause rise in antibiotic use – while currently no control system on residues is in place. At the government laboratory staff and good equipment are available, while there is noted lack of experience with routine sampling and control on antibiotic residues. In the coming weeks lab personnel will be trained on residue analysis at RIKILTWUR.


Here you can find the final factsheet of this project.

Related articles
ARF-3 Final factsheet: Ethiopia healthy cows
March 23, 2021Research project
ARF-3 Final factsheet: Ethiopia healthy cows

“The objective of this project was to improve quantity and quality of milk produced by peri-urban smallholders with zero-grazing dairy systems, as well as improving the position of women. This participatory action research combined activities at both fieldand laboratory level, based on the following research questions: – Field level: What are the results of implementing »

Dairy farmers in Ethiopia successfully adopt herbal recipes and other natural measures
October 18, 2019Research project
Dairy farmers in Ethiopia successfully adopt herbal recipes and other natural measures

Hester Foppen is secretary of the Board of the the Natural Livestock Farming Foundation (NLF), consortium partner in the ARF project “Enhancing safety and quality of milk in Ethiopia”. During her stay in Ethiopia, Hester contacted partner organization Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP) to visit some of the farmers in Ethiopia who have been trained in the use of herbal medicines and other natural methods. »

First steps in Healthy Cows, Healthy Food, Healthy Environment project
November 2, 2018Research project
First steps in Healthy Cows, Healthy Food, Healthy Environment project

In the first year of the Applied Research Fund project “Healthy Cows, Healthy Food, Healthy Environment” in Ethiopia, important first steps have been made. Main objective of the project is to improve the milk quality and milk quality in terms of chemical (antibiotic) residues. This is done in two ways: by enhancing the laboratory control capacity and »

Recognition Getachew Gebru
January 5, 2018Research project
Recognition Getachew Gebru

Dr Getachew Gebru Tegegn, International NLF board member, and the current president of the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production, received a certificate of national recognition for his contribution to the development of the Livestock and fisheries sector in Ethiopia. »