By Faith Chimutsa
In an effort to increase production and productivity Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) and the Government launched the Sommerset Milk Hub which commenced with the launch of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy by the President, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in 2020.
Dairy production in Mashonaland East is contributing to this Vision and is aligned with Government key development Blueprints which include the National Development Strategy 1, the Agricultural Food Systems Transformation Strategy and the Livestock Development Implementation Strategy (LDIS).
Speaking at the launch of Summorset milk hub in Marondera District, Mash East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Aplonia Munzverengwi said agriculture, fundamental to the projected economic growth, is resolving the security of land tenure and adoption of climate smart agriculture strategies. The NDS1 is facilitating access to affordable agricultural financing through various strategies including, establishing a Land Bank, strengthening the use of Private Public Partnerships, as well as reviewing the contract farming and agricultural marketing frameworks to cover all crops and livestock.
“Government is implementing the devolution agenda which is seeing provinces leverage on their various economic opportunities to contribute towards national development. Mashonaland East Province is endowed with resources that could help develop the economy as it boasts of several investment opportunities and is open for business. The major economic activity in Mashonaland East Province is agriculture with main focus on crops and livestock production”, she said.
The national milk production for 2022 was 80 million liters per year and 2022 projected to be over 90 million litres of which Mashonaland East Province is proud to note that it is contributing 35% to this national volume. Contributors to the province’s milk production range from large scale dairy enterprises to medium scale dairy farms and small-scale dairy farmers operating in farms and communal areas surrounding eight functional milk collection centres and aggregation points.
“We have various dairy value chain stakeholders who are working together with the small-scale dairy farmers in Marondera district and the rest of the province. These include financial institutions, stockfeed manufacturers, veterinary drug suppliers, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers representing the farmers; Local Veterinary and Agritex with extension services, development partners and the success we are witnessing here is a result of unified efforts.
“The dairy models in our province like the one demonstrated here at Sommerset are evidence that if appropriate support is rendered, dairy farmers can produce the anticipated high volumes of raw milk required to cover the gap between national demand and the current supply. We are gathered here today to witness fruits of one such model where Dawnview Ranches run by Mr and Mrs Nheta “, added Munzverengwi.
She applauded that with support from Government departments under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) and Nestle Zimbabwe as the processor, a partnership was struck between the anchor farmer-Dawnview and other local farmers aimed at capaciting themselves to run a viable small scale dairy operation. The anchor farmer hosts the local farmers where they use the dairy facilities like cold chain management of milk, on-thefarm-training, access to dairy feed production and processing, vaccines and market for their produce to ensure viability of their businesses.
Speaking at the same occasion,TRANZDVC representative Portia Makunde said we are formulated to address the challenges affecting the Zimbabwe Dairy Value Chain (DVC) which include limited knowledge on dairying, inefficient milk transportation,poor dairy genetics,high cost of production,low dairy farmer numbers and other factors aiming to contribute towards NDS1 objectives.
“We would to congratulate Sommerset group and their anchor farmer Mr Wellington Nheta for excelling in TranZDVC approaches as they also participate in driving NDS1. We wish the group further growth in leaps and bounds as they continue with good work to ensure improvement of the performance of the dairy value chain where everyone is a winner”, said Makunde.
In an interview with Sommerset Farm Manager Mr Collin Chizhande said our work is a bit challenging due to the fact that we are renting a piece of land which is against our vision because we are hoping to be one of the best dairy farmers so we are being limited with land in terms of pastures, diseases as this area is affected by foot and mouth. We are trying our level best, we wish to own our own land . Currently we are producing 1200 litres of milk per collection and we are targeting 3000 litres of milk by March next year.
He thanked ZADF, private sector and the development partners as well as WE Effect for their efforts in playing a transformative role in the dairy value chain. Your efforts are indeed remarkable, the sky being the limit, and with the continued Government support, Zimbabwe will be milk sufficient and have sustainable dairy operations.
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