Apps and animations improve traditional dairy production in Kazakhstan


FAO’s Collect Mobile app and Smart Milk digital portal are boosting farmers’ livelihoods

A FAO-developed app is boosting the dairy sector in Kazakhstan, helping conduct surveys and locate new suppliers. ©EBRD

01/06/2021

Within the vast borders of Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth largest country, about two million families earn a living from the dairy sector. Small-scale farmers who own fewer than five cows produce 80 percent of the country’s raw milk.

Kazakhstan’s dairy industry has significant potential for growth, but it still faces many challenges. The country has been a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) since 2015. As such, to stay competitive, its dairy farmers need to be able to supply domestic companies with raw milk that meets rigorous EAEU food safety standards.

But Kazakhstan is vast and milk collection centres sparse. Distances to dairy plants can span hundreds of kilometres, leading to high transportation costs, spoilage risks and difficulties in upholding milk industry standards. Additionally, milk producers and processors are often not in direct contact with one another making it difficult to coordinate the collection.

Game-changing app

That’s where the Collect Mobile app comes in. On GPS-equipped Android devices, milk processors can use the FAO-developed app from the OpenForis suite to conduct surveys on the ground and geo-locate current and potential raw milk suppliers scattered across the expansive country – a task once done by pen and paper.

The app also helps to optimise collection routes to reduce transportation costs and forecast the capacity need for cooling tanks and refrigeration transport. Processors receive accurate information about existing sources of raw milk, including volume, seasonal availability and the growth potential of each supplier.

Collect Mobile promotes direct interaction between processors and smallholder farmers and enables dairy companies to provide targeted advice on various topics, from improved milk hygiene to farm management. This helps smaller farms comply with food safety standards and also grow their businesses. It also assists dairy companies in taking informed decisions on their supply chain management and expansion investments.

FAO and ERBD’s Smart Milk portal puts knowledge and guidance at the fingertips of dairy farmers, milk collectors, milk processors and even consumers in Kazakhstan, including a series of animations and posters. Left/top: ©Asset Kairbekov, Food Master/Lactalis Group. Right/bottom: ©FAO/Ksenia Kadyrova

Smart milk

Collect Mobile is not the only innovation introduced under this FAO and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) initiative. The data collected using the app has shed light on knowledge gaps within the industry.  

With support from FAO and the EBRD, the Dairy Union of Kazakhstan, an industry association of milk processors, launched the Smart Milk portal – a ‘one-stop shop’ on good farming practices and food safety and quality standards.

With the portal, dairy farmers, milk collectors, milk processors and even consumers have knowledge and guidance at their fingertips – from video tutorials and a farmer’s handbook to a series of animations and posters, each offering simple, straightforward messaging pertinent to the various stages of the value chain.

That includes everything from keeping cows healthy to properly disinfecting workspaces to understanding the importance of consuming milk that is safe.

Erkyn Tazhibaev, chairperson of a cooperative of dairy farmers in the Karaganda region in central Kazakhstan, says these efforts are starting to pay off.  

“We’ve trained our members, distributed the videos on social media and put up the posters in milk collection centres. There is a lot more emphasis now on properly caring for the animals and on food safety. I think we will soon see good results through higher milk yields and better milk quality.”

Small-scale dairy farmer Victoria Suleimenova echoes this sentiment, saying that she has lived in her village her entire life and thought she knew everything about cows. “But after reading the handbook, I realised I was making some mistakes,” she says.

“I realised I could make my business more profitable by introducing new breeds like the Simmental and making small changes in how I feed and take care of my cows,” she adds.

New digital methods are improving the safety, economic efficiency and ultimately the competitiveness of Kazakhstan’s dairy industry. ©Ksenia Kadyrova

Changing the game

These innovations are helping to change the game in Kazakh’s dairy industry.

Farmers improve their production thanks to readily accessible technical know-how and advice. And they can boost their incomes through stable sales to processing companies. Processors gain efficiency in their supply chain management, and the final consumer is offered a safer Kazakh product.

According to Vladimir Kozhevnikov, Executive Director of the Dairy Union of Kazakhstan, the goal is to improve the “food safety, economic efficiency and ultimately the competitiveness of the dairy industry in our country.”

“We are investing a lot of effort to support smallholders in their development. We believe that knowledge can help most of them become more profitable. We, the Union, the processors and our milk suppliers need to develop together,” he adds.

FAO’s partnership with the EBRD has been going strong for more than 20 years. Together they are supporting a more diverse and inclusive rural economy, transforming agri-food systems to create better and more resilient livelihoods.


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8. Decent work and economic growth, 9. Industry innovation and infrastructure, 15. Life on land