29 May 2019

By Chloé Chevrand & Evelyne Offroy, Fondation Grameen Crédit Agricole

© Philippe Lissac

After a mission as a Solidarity Banker for La Laiterie du Berger, Jonathan Michaud is now Director of Kossam SDE, a project led by La Laiterie, which aims to structure the dairy sector in northern Senegal. Spotlight on our discussions with this agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, who has been seconded for two years to support the development of this project with a strong social impact.

Structuring the dairy sector in Senegal

To be the driving force behind the territorial development of Richard Toll’s dairy basin in northern Senegal: this is the shared ambition of Laiterie du Berger and its subsidiary Kossam SDE. Since its creation in 2005, La Laiterie du Berger has established itself as a pioneering social enterprise in the country.

Today, it has become the second largest player in the Senegalese yoghurt market and the main national company processing local milk. It works with the Coopérative des éleveurs de Dagana, which groups 800 Peul farmers, employs 300 people and produces 6000 tonnes of yoghurt each year. In early 2019, in order to consolidate the activity and the dairy sector, La Laiterie du Berger and the Coopérative des éleveurs de Dagana cofounded the social enterprise Kossam – Société de Développement de l’Elevage (Kossam SDE).

Kossam SDE aims to structure and strengthen the dairy sector by providing local services (livestock feed, fodder,…) and training and advice to local farmers. The company is developing a model of “mini-farms” currently in the pilot phase (15 units in operation) and aims to set up 100 mini-farms by 2022 (more information on the project here).

Young people as actors of development

At the heart of this development plan, youth occupies an important place. In a context where youth employment is a challenge in Senegal, Kossam is setting up an ambitious system to support young people in a process of professionalization in dairy production.

Thus, the training offered to breeders are also open to their families. Indeed, the breeders of La Laiterie are mainly families, or rather family organizations, consisting of a “canister manager”, man or woman, behind whom works a whole family structure. “There is a real will of the breeders trained by Kossam to involve and empower their children in the work of the farm. Kossam SDE has planned to intensify the training and support for the and local youth, on the aspects of technical and economic management of the farm and family,” says the Director of Kossam SDE, Jonathan Michaud, Credit Agricultural Engineer Agricole Franche Comté, detached for 2 years to develop the project.

Moreover, young people are not only involved as breeders, but in others links in the dairy chain. Indeed, from many young people are elected as managers of the dairy divisions (which are of the local chapters of the cooperative). Whereas these positions were once reserved for senior managers, today the involvement of young people in agricultural and local of the sector’s model in structuring.

Finally, youth employment is promoted at the level of milk collection. Kossam SDE has thus made it possible to create the profession of “collector”, now exercised by local young people. Jonathan Michaud says that the development of milk collection and the generation of increasing incomes through dairy activity contribute greatly to the stabilization of young populations in Richard Toll’s dairy basin. In addition, the project has changed the image of the dairy industry towards young people: dairy production has become a rewarding, remunerative and attractive activity for local populations, especially for new generations. With the increase in productivity of farms, the creation of new professions around breeding will become essential (by for example, the creation of livestock advisors, technicians of breeding). As pointed out by Jonathan Michaud, it is the logical continuation of the movement already initiated by La Laiterie du Berger for more than 10 years around professionalization dairy, which requires support, supervision, structures and thus creates employment by and around the milk production.

With Kossam, the movement is growing stronger, based on training, entrepreneurship and the involvement of young people, innovators and key development actors in Senegal.