Milk is one of the key global food security and nutrition product providing good health in particular to children. According to Zimbabwe Dairy Farmers Association Zimbabwe needs about 130million litres of milk per year against a national production of about 80 million litres and the difference is being catered by imports of pwder milk from South Africa.
Recently various stakeholders gathered at a large scale dairy farmer field day as to witness success story of Mafuro dairy farm which is adding milk production to meet national requirements. From milking 75 cows in 2018 ,the herd increased 1099. The farm owner said that the combined production at the two farms is about 12400 litres of milk per day translating to 372000 litres per month. “The success story has not been all rose due to drought in the first two years” recalled Sean Webster.
The success story came through smart partnership between the farm and AFC Holdings. The bank put up a composite facilty of USD$1million to purchase heifers for milk production and working capital for the running of the diary farm. The bank Chief Francis Macheka chronicled how it started. “The history between Mafuro,and AFC is very long and exciting. The farm owner Mr Sean Webster approached us in 2018 with a viable dairy project after securing a lease to operate 200 ha of the 1700ha of Grasslands Research Institute” said Macheka. AfC Chief added that the bank is open for business and doors are open for diary farmers. He assured dairy farmers that AFC Commercial Bank is ready to give loans in USD,provided they are selling their products,in particular milk,in USD to enable repayements.
Furthermore the AFC Land and Development Bank is alsoready to extend credit to dairy farmers on the back of an off-taker agreement with the biggest milk processors in the dairy value chain. Adding his voice on value chain Marondera East Member of Parliarment, Hon Jeremiah Chiwetu pleaded with Mafuro farm owner to set up a manufacturing plant for value addition.
Besides financial assistance key to his success was menteroring”Without mentoring from Mr Ajs Kirk of Red Dane Farming Company the story could have been different. I adopted a good mentor and l was willing to learn from the expert. And today l am reaping the rewards” Said Webster.
The dairy industry in Zimbabwe has its own challenges. Key among them being feed. This has seen innovators like Sean Webster establishing Mafuro farm anchored on pastures. Speaking on the sidelines ZADF Chairman said that in dairy farming feed is the biggest cost and Sean has demonstrated that free grazing innovation pasture based systems for dairy farming is a cost effective tool for feed.”For the purposes of developing the dairy industry,we have come together to share and learn from each other the benefits of pastures in reducing feed cost”claimed Mr Muzorewa. He added that high cost of inputs such as stock feeds and raw materials constitute 85% of the total cost of milk production hence reducing the cost of feed through pasturing is a better option.
In his remarks Deputy Minister of Lands,Agriculture,Fisheries,Water and Rural Development Hon Vangelis Haritatos hailed the Presidential silage input scheme for the small-dairy farmers and the command silage targeted at the production of on-farm feeds cost-effectively will go a long way in reducing the cost of stock feeds.
Emerging farmers who attended the event hailed the field day as an eye-opener. Mr. Nimrod Chombo said he was very grateful for being exposed to opportunities in the dairy industry. “ I am very excited about this innovative approach to dairy farming. With a reliable source of water pasturing is the way to go” echoed Chombo.
The field event was graced by small and large-scale dairy farmers from all corners of the country.
By Ambassador Chiyedzo Josiah Dimbo, Founder and President of Southern Africa Media in Agriculture, Climate and Environment Trust.