Fermented food for life (CIFSRF Phase 2)

In eastern and southern Africa, most yogurt production is carried out by industries using large-scale fermentation technologies to target urban consumers. There is limited involvement of small dairy farmers and little penetration of rural markets. In the past 10 years, various development projects have worked with women's groups and local traders in East Africa to produce probiotic yogurt on a small scale for local and regional markets. While the dairy products have been highly popular, the lack of a shelf-stable supply of probiotic bacteria has limited the number of farmers who could participate. This project proposes to expand small-scale yogurt processing and distribution by small- and medium-sized dairy farmers. It incorporates a new technology for freeze-dried probiotic bacteria that has a two-year shelf life. In test markets in East Africa, a 1-gram sachet sold for less than 50 cents Canadian and generated a daily average of more than 27 cents Canadian in net profit. Over a 28-month period, researchers from Western University (Canada), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya), and Heifer International (Uganda) will work with the Yoba for Life Foundation and No Money No Cry Films to introduce the sachets to 150 new suppliers. The team will evaluate different business models to turn small and medium farmers into dairy processors, and anticipates the creation of more than 1,000 profitable new businesses. As a result, up to 250,000 consumers will have daily access to probiotic dairy products in East Africa. The project will also test new probiotic fermented foods made from locally available crops such as sorghum. This project is funded under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of IDRC undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada (formerly Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada).

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Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


28 months

IDRC Officer

Marwan Owaygen

Total funding

CA$ 1,450,504


Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Canada, United States, South of Sahara


Canadian International Food Security Research Fund

Project Leader

Prof Gregor Reid


The University of Western Ontario

Institution Country


Institution Website


Project Leader

Dr Pamela A Ochieng


Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

Institution Country


Institution Website


Project Leader

Susan Atyang


Heifer Project International

Institution Country

United States

Institution Website