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Feed the Future



Project in Ethiopia

Improving Handling Practices and Microbiological Safety of Milk and Milk Products in Borana Pastoral Communities, Ethiopia 

Timeframe: November 2016 - December 2019

Funding: USAID

Principal investigators (PI) and lead institutions

Co-PI and collaborator institutions

  • Oudessa Kerro Dego, University of Tennessee
  • ILRI, Agricultural Research Service-United States Department of Agriculture, Yabello Pastoral and Dryland Agriculture Research Centre, Ethiopian Civil Service University



Project Plan

Borana is a pastoral area in southern Ethiopia where milk is a common food. A recent study involving participatory qualitative investigation on the topic focused on four village administrations of the Yabello district in the Borana zone, and microbiological assessment focusing on E. coli count and selected other pathogens was carried out along different levels of milk value chain.

The observation of milk handling and processing practices revealed apparent unhygienic conditions, and high pathogen loads. Pastoral women considered proper smoking of containers and utensils, using various plant species, as an important traditional practice for assuring the quality and safety of milk and dairy products. Other reasons for smoking mentioned were: increased shelf life of products, good consistency of curdled milk, pleasing flavor and health benefits. The study also revealed that pastoralists considered causes of acute mastitis as ‘evil eye’. The goal of this project is to improve handling practices of milk and dairy products and thus improve food safety for pastoralists in Borana. The objectives of the project are to assess:

  • Knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of women with regard to milk consumption and handling, and the associated health risks focusing on microbial pathogens and zoonotic diseases, specifically brucellosis (to generate quantitative baseline data).
  • The effect of introducing improved storage containers and smoking of containers on the microbial quality and shelf-life of milk and yogurt (ititu).
  • The KAP changes of the people following the awareness and creation of good milk production (including mastitis management) and handling practices on the microbiological safety of milk/milk products and targeting selected zoonotic diseases (e.g. brucellosis).

More Information

 October 2020 research update AMENU VGM (Virtual General Meeting)

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems (click for Home page) is part of Feed the Future

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This work was funded in whole or part by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Food Security under Agreement # AID-OAA-L-15-00003 as part of Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems. Additional funding was received from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors alone.