Livestock Research for Rural Development 27 (12) 2015 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Creating open education resources for teaching and community development through action research: the dairy value chain agribusiness module

A Nkwasibwe, J Mugisha, G Elepu and J B Kaneene1

Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics, Makerere University,
PO B0X 7062, Kampala, Uganda
1 Center for Comparative Epidemiology, Michigan State University,
736 Wilson Road Room A109, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314, USA


To support the growth of the dairy sector of Uganda’s agricultural industry, the AgShare program was developed to create open education resources (OER) for teaching and community development. The AgShare approach is centered on the development of an information loop between academia and dairy value chain stakeholders, using graduate students as agents of change to conduct action research that provides information and evidenced-based training materials to empower dairy value chain stakeholders, and continuously updates and improves educational materials at the university level.

To achieve this, data collected through action research were used in partial fulfillment of a Master’s of Science in Livestock Development, Planning and Management, and a Master’s in Agribusiness and Management by participating students. An Agribusiness OER module was also developed based on components in marketing, product development, economics of on-farm milk processing, pricing, and agribusiness management. The OER module was incorporated into an existing graduate level course at Makerere University.

Key words: agricultural economics, AgShare, dairy cattle, graduate student training, on-farm milk processing


Uganda’s dairy value chain faces many challenges, including low milk productivity per cow, poor milk handling and uncoordinated milk marketing (Elepu 2006; East Africa Dairy Development Project 2008; World Bank 2007). These challenges can be attributed largely to insufficient competencies among farmers themselves and their advisors (extension staff and civic leaders). Further, information flow is not properly streamlined along the dairy marketing chain, and insufficient attention is given to quality milk handling by some actors in the marketing chain (Elepu 2006; Mbowa et al 2012). This has led to an inefficient market structure that negatively impacts on dairy farmers in terms of prices received, and consumers in terms of prices charged and quality of milk consumed. Value chain analysis is an effective way for a country to streamline its dairy sector, by assessing the linkages between and amongst productive activities, and providing a framework for analysing the nature and determinants of competitiveness of dairy value chain actors (Anjani et al 2011). This provides basic information needed for designing, and implementing appropriate development programs and policies to support their dairy sector.

For Ugandan dairy sector to deliver quality driven market products and exploit value addition benefits, strategies such as farmer training on quality production and handling, licensing of all raw milk traders that meet regulations, and offering of input to farmers at subsidized prices, were paramount (World Bank 2007; Uganda Dairy Development Authority 2009/2010). To address the educational needs of the dairy value chain, the AgShare program was developed, with the overall goal to increase dairy production through improved knowledge and skills of stakeholders in all aspects of the dairy value chain (Kaneene et al 2013). A key concept of the AgShare approach is the recognition of the complexities of the dairy value chain, and the necessity of using an interdisciplinary approach to research, training, and program implementation, by applying expertise in veterinary medicine, dairy processing, food safety, agricultural economics, and other fields is necessary to address all aspects of the dairy value chain.

The development of the OER learning modules, incorporating information from the information loop of academics’ research-based knowledge with farmers’ traditional knowledge and practical skills on dairy value chain (Kaneene et al 2013). Briefly, graduate students were trained to act as agents of change in the information loop between academia and stakeholders by providing a line of communication between farmers and researchers. Two OER teaching modules were developed by AgShare, and the student-researchers successfully completed requirements for their degrees: one for a Master’s of Science in Livestock Development, Planning and Management (MLD) (focusing on animal health and milk production), and one for a Master’s in Agribusiness and Management (MABM). The first OER teaching module (Milk Production and Hygiene) is focused on production and hygienic handling of milk (Ssajjakambwe et al 2013), and the module described in this paper (Agribusiness) is focused on milk value addition and the marketing of milk and milk products.

Materials and methods

Development of the agribusiness OER module

Development of the AgShare training modules has been described in detail by Ssajjakambwe et al (2013). In brief, students working towards Master’s degrees served as agents of change, through their action research, between farming communities and the training institutions. The students visited farmers to disseminate and collect information needed for the development of programs to improve the dairy agribusiness, while helping farmers adopt improved dairy value chain improvement interventions, such as on-farm milk processing and strategic milk marketing.

Dairy value chain agribusiness data collection

In brief, baseline information for development of the AgShare OER modules was collected through focus group discussions and a cross-sectional farmer survey (Photo 1). For the Agribusiness module, these baseline data included:

Photo 1. Baseline data collection from focus group discussion (L) and the cross-sectional farmer survey (R)

The cross-sectional survey was administered to selected project stakeholders (dairy farmers), using a pre-tested structured questionnaire. Focus group discussions were held with district Local Leaders, Production and Veterinary department officers, and leaders of farmer groups, milk traders and processors, to gain in-depth insights on milk production, processing and marketing.

Development of agribusiness interventions

AgShare researchers developed interventions to improve the efficiency and profitability of the dairy value chain using baseline data and stakeholder feedback meetings. These meetings were held with major private and governmental stakeholders to generate sustainable programs with the AgShare project, and develop policy reforms on milk production, processing and marketing and existing extension programs, and formulate the way forward for improving farmers’ benefits along the dairy value chain. These stakeholders included local District government leaders, the Uganda Dairy Development Authority (DDA), dairy farmer cooperative leaders, veterinary officers, milk trader representatives, processor representatives, and the Department of Production of the Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Interventions to improve dairy agribusiness were provided to stakeholders by AgShare graduate student-researchers. The student-researchers delivered programs by providing farmers with information regarding their farms’ performance and the regional dairy industry, and through practical demonstration of different techniques to improve milk quality, increase milk production and reduce spoilage, create value-added products for market, and improve farmer marketing skills. Training for the creation of value-added products, was primarily directed at commercial on-farm ghee and yoghurt processing and marketing (Figure 2). After dissemination of the interventions, the performance of dairy farmers before and after AgShare interventions was compared to determine the impact of these interventions on dairy value chain, using the adoption and performance of on-farm milk processing as the primary outcome used to assess performance.

Photo 2. Examples of activities to improve agribusiness through AgShare: on-farm production and marketing of ghee (L), and
production (C) and marketing (R) of yogurt through the Amate Gaitu farmer cooperative, an AgShare partner in Uganda.
Analysis and reports of agribusiness data

Information from focus group meetings and farm visits was compiled and summarized to provide a description of the processing and marketing aspects of the dairy value chain in Kiruhura, including technologies of on-farm dairy processing being used by farmers, primary buyers of milk and milk products from farmers, dairy production costs per farm, and lists of constraints to milk processing and marketing (e.g. high transportation costs, poor infrastructure – roads and electrification). These data were used by university researchers to develop strategies to overcome some of these constraints (e.g., training farmers on quality on-farm processing, supporting membership in cooperative unions to receive better milk prices).

The AgShare team, including the student-researchers, held a two day workshop to disseminate the survey results to dairy farmers, milk processors, milk traders and local government staff in Kiruhura district, and to introduce the interventions designed to improve the dairy value chain. The workshop provided information on the performance of dairy farms, challenges being faced along the dairy value chain, opportunities for growth, and strategies to improve the efficiency of the dairy value chain. In the workshop, participants initiated the formation of a dairy farmers’ marketing organization to improve the profitability of dairy farming through efficient marketing. A follow-up workshop was held twelve months later, to provide stakeholders with updated information on the status of their farms, and report how interventions influenced the performance of the dairy value chain from farm to market.

Training workshops were conducted for dairy farmers, traders and processors, to share knowledge and skills with each stakeholder group. The major objectives of the workshops were to report the status of dairy chain, share knowledge and skills on quality milk production, handling and processing, equip dairy farmers with appropriate on-farm milk processing technologies, and expose farmers, traders and processors to strategic milk marketing approaches. Trainees were awarded certification by the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics in collaboration with the Uganda Dairy Development Authority (DDA).

OER module development

Following collection of baseline data, faculty at Makerere University and Michigan State University, and the AgShare graduate student in Agribusiness and Management developed the OER materials. AgShare researchers, faculty members of Makerere University and Michigan State University, and the AgShare graduate students participated in the development and writing of different sections of the module. The module was divided into nine topics:

Each topic area provides case studies and lists of references for more detailed information for interested students. Case study reports developed from action research findings, consisting of videos, picture catalogs, and MSc theses, and other reports, were designed to highlight specific aspects of the dairy value chain for use by educators in conjunction with the OER module.

Photo 3. Using the Agribusiness OER module at Makerere University
Use of the agribusiness OER module

At Makerere University, the Agribusiness OER module has been incorporated into the curriculum for the master’s degree in agribusiness management (MABM) in the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics from the School of Agricultural Sciences, in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The module is part of the graduate course ABM 7201: Agricultural Marketing Management. The teaching approach of the class focuses on student-centered learning, using the OER module, case studies from AgShare, recommended textbooks, and articles from scientific journals. The course also incorporates community field visits to stimulate the development of communication, interpersonal skills, group dynamics, and service learning. These community field visits also provide information from the stakeholder communities to contribute to the information loop that drives the AgShare model.

The Agribusiness OER module has been made available to interested parties through OER Africa (, an access point for OER content developed by the AgShare Initiative (Kaneene et al 2013) and other projects, and provides search engines and tools for users to locate other sources of OER.


Development of the Agribusiness OER module under the AgShare paradigm, using University-led engagement with community and using student-researchers as agents of change, resulted in a wide range of positive outputs in the community were achieved. It was noted that use of OER materials for teaching at the University and in community training sessions was a very pragmatic technique for relaying the desired messages to the target audience, as long as the presentation of materials is appropriate and appealing to the audience (e.g., videos, pictorials, brochures). The students` direct involvement in communities helped their academic mentors to appreciate the diversity and dynamism of the dairy sector on the ground, which formed a fertile opportunity for the students to become facilitators of change at both the University and in the field.

The development of the OER-based curricula was informed by results from the action research studies, the multi-stakeholder information loop, and video documentation of milk production, hygiene and agricultural marketing and management events along the whole dairy value chain. This curriculum was reviewed by all stakeholder categories, which found that the materials were useful in filling gaps of knowledge that riddled the dairy value chain. At the end of the project, independent evaluation of the AgShare approach, using OER for both community and academic training, concluded that the multi-stakeholder information loop system improves the efficiency of the dairy value chain. This innovative approach has achieved several successes, ranging from improving community livelihood, training graduate students in capacity building, as well as transforming universities into community development institutions.


Great appreciation goes to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for financial support. The authors would also like to thank the following institutions and individuals for their contributions to the project: Makerere University - AFRISA (African Institute for Strategic Animal Resource Services and Development), and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences; Michigan State University - College of Veterinary Medicine, Christine Geith and Karen Vignare of MSU Global Initiative, RoseAnn Miller of the Center for Comparative Epidemiology; Neil Butcher of OER Africa; SAIDE (South African Institute for Distance Education); and Ken Harley, University of Pretoria.


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Anjani K, Staal J S and Dhiraj K S 2011 Smallholder Dairy Farmers’ Access to Modern Milk Marketing Chains in India. Agricultural Economics Research Review. 24: 243-253.

Uganda Dairy Development Authority (DDA) 2010 Annual Report 2009/2010. Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

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Ssajjakambwe P, Kisaka S, Vudriko P, Setumba C, Bahizi G, Kabasa J D and Kaneene J B 2013 Creating Open Education Resources for Teaching and Community Development through Action Research: The Milk Production and Hygiene Module. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 17(2),

World Bank World Development Report 2007: Agriculture for Development. World Bank.

Received 24 September 2015; Accepted 13 October 2015; Published 1 December 2015

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