Dairy farmers with Buffalo Bicycles increased their incomes by 23 percent as a result of higher volumes of milk deliveries, compared to farmers without the bicycle, according to a recent World Bicycle Relief (WBR) study. The research evaluated the impact of Buffalo Bicycles on dairy farmers’ productivity and quality of life in the Palabana region of Zambia.
Between 2011 and 2014, farmers in this rural community purchased 281 bicycles through an employee purchase program at the Palabana Dairy Cooperative. The loan payments were subtracted over a three-month period out of the farmers’ earnings from milk deliveries to the cooperative. This program enabled farmers to buy a high-quality Buffalo Bicycle without an upfront payment. To date, 100% of the farmers have met their payment obligations.
Productivity Results for Farmers with Buffalo Bicycles:
- Number of deliveries increased up to 25%
- Volume of milk increased 23%
- Amount of income increased 23%
- Travel time to the cooperative reduced 45%
In addition to increased productivity, 95 percent use their bikes to better their families lives, by accessing education and healthcare, as well as social activities such as attending community meetings and visiting friends.
The Palabana Dairy Cooperative, which started with ten members in 2000, currently has 84 active members, the majority of whom are smallholder farmers. Of these, 74 percent of farmers own fewer than 20 cows, and 70 percent sell 30,000 liters or less milk per year to the cooperative.
To reach the milk collection facility, the dairy farmers travel distances between 2 and 17 kilometers on unpaved roads. More than 40 percent live 6 kilometers or more from the facility. Before owning a Buffalo Bicycle, farmers were often late in making deliveries and the milk quality suffered as a result.
A manager at the cooperative said the bicycle has had a positive impact on farmers and their families. There has been an increase in the volume of milk delivered every day, and it is good quality milk because it is delivered on time, he said. This has increased the income levels of the farmers.
WBR’s Director of Africa Operations Dave Neiswander said, The dairy co-op has also begun to sell Buffalo Bicycles to other farmers and entrepreneurs in the community, thus creating a hub for local economic activity.
The first distributions of Buffalo Bicycles in the Palabana area were through WBR’s philanthropic programs, including the RAPIDS healthcare program in 2007 and the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) in 2009. In keeping with WBR’s innovative blended model, social enterprise sales followed, beginning with a microloan program through Vision Fund Chongwe and the employee purchase program (EPP) with the Palabana Dairy Cooperative in 2011.
This study is a great opportunity for WBR to learn about the communities where we work, said Alisha Myers, WBR’s Director of Monitoring and Evaluation. It informs our ability to enhance our product offering by understanding the challenges the community is facing and how customers are using the bicycle.