The FARM Activity facilitated the hosting of three technical events in Chipinge, Chivi and Mwenezi districts of Manicaland and Masvingo provinces in commemoration of the World Milk Day marked on June 1st of every year. The events ran under the theme “Dairy Net Zero”. The FARM Activity joined the global commemorations by promoting the beef-dairy model as a low-cost springboard into commercial dairying, which is allowing smallholder livestock farmers to unlock new sources of income, access nutrient-rich dairy products (35 percent of milk produced is set aside for home consumption), adopt environmental protection through planting of fodder and fruit trees, improve hygiene through construction of milking parlors, latrines, and handwashing stations and acquire skills in livestock production. A total of 128 farmers (56 percent females) along with private sector players Agriseeds, AFC Land and Development Bank, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited Chipinge, Empower Bank, Farmbiz Agrodealers, Katerere Nurseries, Klein Karoo (K2), Syngenta and Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), attended the three events.
Beef-dairy farmer Tabitha Mudiwa and her spouse Dzipange Bwerudza from Chipinge district, Prisca Mutakata and her spouse Douglas Masedze from Chivi district and Paulo Zekeyo Tomu and his spouse Martha Chiwanza from Mwenezi district, hosted the three commemorations. The host farmers showcased the importance of fodder production and adoption of good sanitation and hygiene practices to ensure viable lactation periods and increased production and productivity of clean and safe milk. Dairibord’s milk supply manager, Tecla Thomo, alerted potential and active milk producers on the financial implications of clean milk production by demonstrating the positive correlation between clean milk and premium prices. The Activity also encouraged increased milk consumption through the preparation of recipes that incorporate the use of milk, namely NUA 45 sugar bean fritters, beef in milk, avocado and sweet potato in milk mash, mashed pumpkin in milk and baobab in milk. The Activity’s aim is to show farmers the importance of incorporating a balanced diet within their households by linking improved household nutrition to increased overall agricultural production and productivity. “FARM is a partner for success. They are encouraging farmers to commercialize farming for increased incomes and resilience and working with them will see a change in us as farmers,” said Tinashe Hingi, the Ward 5 councilor for Mwenezi district.
Empower Bank representative, Frank Chirongoma, shared his organization’s portfolio and products targeting youth and was quite happy to partner with the Activity in women and youth empowerment interventions. To ensure convenience of prospective loan applicants, Empower Bank identified local retailer, N J Stores from Sarahuru business center in Mwenezi to issue and collect application forms on behalf of the bank as the latter is based in Masvingo city. Farmers appreciated the affordable lending rates of 5 percent, which are lower than other institutions which offer rates of 14 percent. Farmers further appreciated the SeedCo sugar bean demonstration sites, as they were educated on how to increase yield, pest control as well as market linkages.