Danone’s dairy-farming ‘Margarita Project’ serves up a cocktail of adaptation actions

Danone’s dairy-farming ‘Margarita Project’ serves up a cocktail of adaptation actions

Mexican dairy farmers are benefiting from the ‘Margarita’ project which aims to sustain livelihoods of small-scale milk producers in the face of climate change. The project, from the international food company Danone, is designed to encourage sustainable milk-sourcing strategy in the Jalisco province. In support of the project, and with funding from PROADAPT, Acclimatise delivered a supply chain climate risk assessment that identified key climate risks and opportunities for farmers to build their resilience.

The assessment indicated that the dairy industry faces several climate risks that threaten production. One of the most significant risks is the inability of farmers to produce enough fodder (such as hay, grass and silage). If fodder yields do not cover the livestock’s nutritional needs, farmers have to purchase from suppliers, which can often be prohibitively expensive, especially if precipitated by and extreme weather event such as a drought.

Dairy cattle are also extremely vulnerable to hot temperatures because of their high metabolic rate and poor water retention, which impact their reproductive performance. High temperatures combined with increased soil moisture can also create prime conditions for the spread of pathogens and parasites.

The report also identified adaptation options that could help farmers build resilience. Importantly the assessment found that the cost-effectiveness of adaptation options was closely linked to farm size. Farms with at least 40-50 productive cows are able to introduce certain resilience measures more quickly than farms with smaller herds. For farmers ‘below the thresholds’ financial, behavioural, institutional and knowledge interventions with low-capital investment need to be introduced progressively. 

Adaptation measures identified in the report include:

  • Tree planting which drives water infiltration and preservation and protects cattle from heat stress and solar radiation whilst capturing and storing C02;
  • Installation of biodigesters to provide manure and slurry management and treatment techniques to reduce GHG emissions, improve soil quality and moisture preservation and reduce chemical fertilizer costs and associated environmental impacts; and
  • Crop surveillance for early detection of infectious diseases.

The Margarita project has provided farmers with a full suite of services to increase dairy quality and productivity. Some indicators include increases in the number of cows per farm, overall yield increase, improved milk quality and increase price per litre. The project has achieved considerable success by supplying 12% of Danone’s milk procurement volumes and doubling the incomes of over 300 small-scale dairy farmers in Jalisco.

For more details about this project, read the full report here.

Cover photo by Michael Pujals on Unsplash.

About the Author