By William Milasi
Top milk processor Dendairy is employing variuos strategies to empower small scale milk producers mostly in the rural area, The Observer Business reports.
The Kwekwe based milk processor is currently deriving its raw milk supply from milk farmers in Kwekwe, Gweru and Bulawayo.
Dendairy Managing Director Darly Archibald intimated to this publication that a total of 40 farmers are currently supplying raw milk to Dendairy on contract.
“Since 2003 the company has grown its farmer base through an intimate relationship with the farmers, identifying their needs and meeting them to the best of their ability,” he said.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a milk shortfall as the country is producing about 80 million litres annually against the national demand of 150 million litres per annum. It has been established that major constraints facing dairy farmers include unavailability and cost of stockfield, including limited land to grow feed on farm, unavailability of good quality dairy breeds and absence of appropriate finance to recapitalise dairy operations.Dendairy has been working closely with its farmers to grow milk production.
“The farmers come from the entire production spectrum, from milk collection centres (MMCs) such as Gokwe MMC, through the recently introduced milk aggregators in Gokwe and Umzinganwe, all the way up to large scale commercial farmers,” he said.
It has been gathered that this symbiotic relationship across the chain has enabled the transfer of knowledge and genetics from the large scale sector to the small scale sector, to the benefit of not only Dendairy, but the dairy sector at large.
“As part of thier farmer support program, Dendairy has in the recent past managed to conduct farmer training sessions, microbial residues in milk, calf rearing as well as artificial insemination among others which knowledge has helped farmers to increase productivity as well as improve the quality of milk delivered to the factory for processing,” he said.
To support farmers, a fully fledged Department of Milk Growth and Projects has also been established to support farmers as well as assist farmers to strategically and competitively procure key raw materials such as stockfeed raw materials (maize, maize bran, cotton meal, hay) diesel and even capital projects like milking machines and other machinery and equipment as required.
Meanwhile, Dendairy recently partnered with the EU-funded Zimbabwe Agriculture Growth Programme (ZAGP) under the Transforming the Zimbabwe Dairy Value Chain for the Future Action (TranZDVC), administered by We Effect, which saw the importation of 50-in calf-heifers from South Africa.
These heifers were matched by Dendairy, on behalf of its farmers on a 50-50 basis.A total of (10) small-scale farmers received 10 good quality in-calf heifers each to boost their dairy operations.”
As part of its inclusive growth thrust, and in the spirit of promoting emerging dairy farmers, Dendairy has also established strong linkages with Fintrac, Implementing the USAID-funded Feed the Future Zimbabwe Liverstock Development Programme (FTFZ-LD), with supplying small scale farmers under the aggregator model in Gokwe and Umzinganwe District, where a total of 10 aggregators (5 from each) have been nurtured, and are now delivering milk from these two sites.”Since the beginning of the year 2020, the milk intake from these 10 aggregators has almost doubled is set to increase further as they rope in more neighbouring small scale farmers to supply milk,” he said.
It has been noted that despite the drought currently ravaging the country, Dendairy farmers have not taken a huge knock but have instead, maintained and in some instances, even surpass yester year’s levels of production. With contract farmer support and resilient farmer base, the country is on course to dairy self sufficiency, and in the long term into a net exporter of milk and dairy products.