A New Milk Can for The Developing World, Funded by Bill Gates
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
When you buy milk in America, it generally comes from farmers with hundreds of cows. They do their own milking with mechanized equipment, and, generally, their own pasteurization and bottling. In Kenya, it’s different. About 80% of the country’s milk comes from small-scale farmers with a few cows, who milk by-hand. They don’t do bottling and, instead of trucks to get to market, they go by bike or foot.
Naturally, that limits distribution. The milk goes bad because it isn’t refrigerated. And, much of the time, it’s contaminated anyway, because farmers fail to clean out their pails properly. The end-product often doesn’t meet minimum Kenyan standards, let alone anything we’d expect here, according to Maurizio Vecchione, who’s leading an effort to develop a better milk pail.
Vecchione is senior vice president of Global Good, a collaboration between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures, a product development group based in Bellevue, Washington. Vecchione says Gates had the idea for the pail himself after seeing how much milk in Africa is wasted.
The Mazzi is a plastic 10-liter container specially designed for carrying milk in under-developed places. It has an ultra-wide mouth, so farmers can clean inside easily. There are notches on the side, so the Mazzi can be tied to bike or slung over the shoulder. There are measurement scales to help farmers get the right price for their product. And the funnel—which fits on to a cow’s udders—is black, helping farmers look out for telltale residues indicating diseases like mastitis.