Nqobile Tshili, Business Reporter
MORE than 7 000 smallholder farmers have been capacitated to venture into low cost commercial dairy farming using their ordinary cattle breeds and are now supplying milk to markets in their districts.
The capacity building programme is being supported by Feed the Future Zimbabwe Livestock Development Programme, a local non-governmental organisation with a bias towards food security interventions. On Tuesday the western region provincial team led by Mr Meynard Chirima, conducted a tour of dairy projects run by beneficiaries of the programme in Umzingwane district, Matabeleland South.
Mr Chirima said the intervention covered Umzingwane, Mvuma, Gokwe South, Gweru, Chipinge and Kwekwe districts.
“We have aggregators who collect milk from members of the community before the milk is sold at milk collection centres in the pilot districts. The overall objective of the programme is to reduce rural poverty and increase incomes, food security and build resilience,” said Mr Chirima.
He said the programme was targeting 1 800 farmers in the beef sector and 1 200 smallholder dairy farmers. Mr Chirima said the programme had already surpassed targets as it has about 7 000 farmers and was now concentrating on boosting production.
The beef/dairy concept is a model whereby beef farmers can milk their cows for dairy commercial purposes using low cost approaches. During the tour it emerged that some of the farmers were making up to $1 500 a month from the project.
“When we started working with the farmers most of them were getting about one litre from a cow but when they started implementing our methods of feeding their cattle… the milk output increased from a litre to six litres per day with other farmers getting up to 10 litres,” said Mr Chirima.
The new dairy model entails confining the animals where necessary, constructing overnight holding pens and feeding them.
Mr Chirima said his organisation was also assisting beneficiaries to buy more cattle to boost their herds.
One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Mr Dzingirai Juwere said he was realising almost $1 500 a month from selling milk.
“This programme has transformed my life. On a daily basis I make between $36 and $40 from selling milk at Umzingwane Milk Collection centre,” said Mr Juwere.
Feed the Future Zimbabwe Livestock Development Programme team also provides solar equipment for the aggregator farmers who collect milk from other farmers within their communities. — @nqotshili