La Laiterie du Berger Expands the Milk Industry, Improving the Lives of Farmers and Reducing Senegal’s Reliance on Imports Senegal’s dairy sector holds significant socio-economic importance for rural communities. While the consumption of dairy products in the country is steadily increasing, the local milk collection rate remains relatively low. Remarkably, nearly 90 percent of the milk available on the market is imported, primarily in powdered form. However, Senegal boasts a population of nearly 18 million with approximately 48 percent living in rural areas, with approximately 30 percent engaged in dairy farming. These dairy farmers are capable of producing ample fresh milk to meet domestic consumption demands and reduce Senegal’s reliance on milk imports.
A female herder supplies milk to La Laiterie du Berger. Photo credit: La Laiterie du Berger
For La Laiterie du Berger (LDB), a company dedicated to manufacturing dairy products using locally sourced milk, the goal is achieving self-sufficiency and reducing reliance on imported milk and milk powder. This commitment stems from a desire to integrate and empower local communities in its supply chain and enhance economic opportunities for women and youth who play vital roles in the dairy value chain.
Situated in the Richard Toll region of northern Senegal, LDB actively collects freshly sourced
milk from cow herders to craft a range of dairy products. The company’s overarching mission is.
to facilitate the transition of herders from subsistence farming to income-generating agriculture
while simultaneously creating new market linkages for both herders and suppliers.
However, to achieve this ambitious goal, LDB knew they and the people along the milk value
chain needed a comprehensive understanding of milk safety for production and processing.
Such insights are crucial for robust safety practices and essential training to dairy farmers,
allowing the company to scale up milk supply and ultimately foster sustainable revenues and job
creation across the entire value chain.
Leveraging Co-investment Partnership with USAID to Scale Operations Founded in 2007, LDB has seen substantial sales growth. However, it still required additional investment to expand its operations. In August 2021, LDB entered a co-investment partnership with the USAID-funded West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (Trade Hub), receiving a $518,878 grant. This grant has been instrumental in leveraging an additional $3.46 million in private investment, both of which have been instrumental in the company expanding its operations, increasing incomes for farmers, and reducing Senegal’s reliance on milk imports.
“Our partnership with the Trade Hub has been key to harnessing local farmers’ existing ability to
provide fresh milk beyond their immediate communities while increasing their earnings and
strengthening food security, which is threatened when a staple product such as milk is not
primarily bought from local producers,” says Bagoré Bathily, CEO of La Laiterie du Berger.
During the co-investment partnership, the company significantly expanded its supply network,
increasing the number of herders it worked with from 850 to over 2,000 in just two years. This
expansion has allowed the company to double its annual sales of dairy products and purchase an additional 5,000 MT of fresh milk locally through July 2023. The increase in fresh milk availability spurred the company to accelerate its exports to neighboring countries, including Mali and Guinea, while also strengthening its presence in The Gambia.
Further, the expansion resulted in $4.87 million in exports to the sub-region and the creation of 1,153 sustainable jobs (both directly and indirectly). Beyond the growth in jobs, sales, and exports, LDB’s partnership with Trade Hub has allowed them to renew its B Corp certification – which guarantees
compliance with societal and environmental requirements – and establish a system for
assessing and monitoring the impact of its activities on more than 15,000 distributors of the
company’s products. Having successfully completed the certification process, LDB expects to
receive its B Corp certificate by November 2023.
LDB’s commitment to sustaining the impact of its partnership with the Trade Hub reflects a
comprehensive and forward-thinking approach that encompasses various key objectives. These
objectives not only signify the company’s dedication to growth but also its commitment to
improving the livelihoods of local communities and fostering agricultural development.
At the heart of this journey stands the testimonies of young breeders like Cheikh Oumar Diallo,
from the village of Pathé Badio in the Mbane District. In Cheikh’s own words, he proudly states, “The sale of milk allowed me to modernize my breeding with cross-bred cows and to build my house. And with the installation of the bio-digester, I managed to diversify my sources of income.”