Behind the scenes of Club Dolima

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Twice a day, the Dolima Club’s field teams go collect milk from 800 Pular dairy farmers near Richard Toll, about an hour north of Saint-Louis, bringing back a supply of the key ingredient used to make the freshest dairy products available in Senegal. And these dairy products can be delivered right to your doorstep each week!

I’ve been a fan of Dolima Club delivery since the first time I tried it. (Give them a call.78 480 5454. Your first delivery is free upon request and mentioning Dakar Eats!) Every Thursday, they deliver a basket containing chilled fresh, pasteurized milk, plain and vanilla yogurt pots… which I say are for my kids, but my yogurt mustache probably gives away my secret addiction. In exchange, I give them the empty glass containers from the previous week, the payment and a big smile.

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So what makes Dolima Club dairy different? Well, first of all, their parent company, La Laiterie du Berger, are visionaries. In 2006 they saw that although 30% of Senegal’s population lived off traditional herding, 90% of dairy consumed here was in the form of imported milk. So Dolima Club was created to right this wrong and provide a trustworthy link between rural Senegalese cow herders and urban customers in Dakar. Despite the challenges of developing a streamlined production process and maintaining a reliable cold chain to transport the milk from herder to customer, their idea worked. Ten years later, la Laiterie du Berger is still the only dairy company in Senegal sourcing their milk from local cow herders.

One benefit is that cow herders of Richard Toll have tripled their incomes. Abou Idrissa, one of the oldest partners of la Laiterie du Berger, said “With the money from the milk, we live better and don’t have to sell our cows. Our elderly no longer need to follow migrating herds and our children can go to school.” La Laiterie du Berger also supplies added-value services to its herders, including cow feed distribution and mobile phone charging and soon solar power unit installation and agricultural best practices training.

The milk collected from herders is checked using PH acidity tests and then brought to a production workshop. Here the milk is pasteurized, filtered for particles, put through standard microbiological tests to determine if there are acceptable levels of bacteria in the product, and also stress tests where the products are subjected to high temperatures and need to resist (not change physical state) for a certain amount of time to make sure there are no unwanted components in the product.

Between the workshop and the client, the product is tasted before delivery and rigorously monitored through a cold chain, using coolers that are filled with ice.

And every week, the Dolima Club delivers this fresh dairy to your doorstep. You can also sample it at the monthly Lou Bess? Farmers Market.

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Photo cortesy of Abdoul Aziz Ndiaye / Lou Bess? Farmers Market
As the Dolima Club expands and transforms more of its dairy farmers’ milk into artisanal products, the Club will be sharing the stories of its suppliers to give customers a taste of their day-to-day lives. For an easy sign-up, you can fill out an online form directly accessible on http://www.leclub-dolima.com.

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