DeSIRA CSARIDE – Eritrean Dairy Project

Climate Smart Agriculture Research and Innovation Support for Dairy Value Chains in Eritrea – CSARIDE


The once thriving Eritrean Dairy sector has been in decline since 2000 due to ongoing regional conflict, economic isolation and desertification related to climate change.

Milk volumes have dropped by 80% since 2000 with a severe impact on farmers, the dairy sector and food security.

The CSARIDE project started in February 2020. Implemented by the Irish Agriculture and Food Authority (Teagasc), VITA, University College Dublin, University College Cork, Self Help Africa and Greenfield International. Local implementation partners are the Eritrean Ministry of Agriculture, The National Agricultural Research Institute, Hamelmalo Agricultural College, Zoba Maekel, Anseba and Debub Regional Administrations.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to and within Eritrea, little progress was possible. Sense was recruited in 2021 to provide a Dairy Production Specialist and an Agribusiness Value Chain Expert to identify issues on-farm and throughout the Dairy VC that are hampering the development of the sector, propose solutions and implement them in collaboration with the Eritrean implementing partners.

The project’s duration is 52 months, ending in June 2024.

Project Activities

Sense activities are divided between the On-farm Dairy Production Specialist and the Agribusiness Value Chain Expert. However, there are several overlaps and cross cutting issues affecting the entire value chain

On-farm Dairy Production

  • Fact Finding Mission to determine on-farm issues
  • Capacity Development Needs Assessment of Extension and other government services
  • Development of training materials for extension and farmers
  • Proposal for practical solutions to farmers’ issues
  • Establishment of demonstration plots in farming areas to train farmers and extension
  • Implementation of on farm Real Time Monitoring system and feed calendar
  • Milk quality and handling assessment from farm to Milk Collection Centres
  • Support HAC and NARI to carry out relevant feed and herd management research
  • Ongoing coaching and mentoring to extension agents on-farm

Agribusiness and Value Chain

  • Feasibility studies of value chain actors
    • Ministry of Agriculture Support Services (Extension, AI and Veterinary)
    • Milk Collection Centres
    • Dairy Processors
    • Proposed project interventions
  • Needs assessment of the above actors with proposed solutions
  • Market Research and development of market research capacity in Eritrea
  • Mapping of the dairy value chain in Eritrea
  • Support implementation of agreed solutions

Key Insights

  • The on-farm cost of milk production is outpacing consumer buying power
  • 194 days of fasting in the Coptic Orthodox calendar cause huge fluctuations in supply and demand
  • Scarcity of land for fodder production in the highlands of Eritrea where dairy is farmed is the fundamental issue confronting dairy farming and the VC in Eritrea as a whole
  • Purchased fodder, concentrate ingredients are scarce and expensive, especially protein sources
  • Import bans on feed, medicines, equipment and packaging materials hamper the sector
  • Milk processors are a key player in the VC, developing products and markets to iron-out fluctuations in supply and demand
  • Government support services are under-resourced and unavailable to most farmers

The Future

While land tenure issues and a restrictive regulatory environment are not issues that can be addressed by the CSARIDE project, feed and other value chain issues can. There are several proposed interventions that we hope to realise during the remaining two years of the project:

  • Research and development of multi-purpose crops, especially oil seeds that can provide nutrition to humans while the protein rich residues can be used for animal feed
  • Capacity Development of government services through on-farm internships for students, extension agents and technicians
  • Management training for processors, cooperatives and milk collection centres
  • IT and technology support to modernise processors
  • Introduction of locally manufactured bio-degradable packaging
  • A School Milk Feeding Scheme to nourish children and reduce pressure on vulnerable households while providing an institutional market for dairy processors
  • A Dairy Commodity Platform to develop VC linkages and advocacy
  • Capacity development of government services and research institutions



Client: The Irish Agriculture and Food Authority (Teagasc)

Donor: European Union – Deira

Location: Zobas Maekel, Anseba and Debub – Eritrea

CSARIDE Goal: Inclusive, sustainable and climate-relevant transformation of the Eritrean dairy value chain to enhance food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, create job opportunities for young people, and promote resilience to climate change while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Beneficiaries: Estimated 1200