By Julie Havercroft
Dendairy is a leading player in the Zimbabwean dairy industry, producing many dairy and non-dairy products including UHT milk, flavored milk, ice creams, yoghurt, butter, and dairy juices. The company is heavily involved with farmers who constitute a significant stakeholder in the company’s business. This article provides a snippet of what it takes for one to undertake dairying in Zimbabwe, while at the same time highlighting Dendairy’s involvement with dairy farmers in the country.
Before one can produce milk for public consumption it is mandatory that one is registered by the Dairy Services, under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, in accordance with the Dairy Act. Dendairy will accept all the milk that a supplier who has signed the agreement wishes to supply to the business, provided the milk complies with the quality standards. New milk suppliers must sign a contract before commencing supply to Dendairy. Water from private wells, boreholes and/ or other sources used in the washing of milking equipment must comply with the WHO standards and must be tested annually.
Before milk is collected from the farm, basic quality tests are conducted and these can result in milk being rejected on-site if it fails to meet the required specification. Milk is tested for antibiotics (using the Tri sensor method) as well as for acidity. The milk is also checked for flavour, odour, appearance, temperature, and sediment. Dendairy has the right to reject any milk which does not meet the requirements. Ideally, the milk must be collected/delivered within 48 hours of milking. It is the farmer’s responsibility to ensure that his farm is accessible by the milk tanker to enable hassle-free milk collection.
The quality of the milk is measured, among other things; the level of protein and fat, which constitute the basis of farmer payment. The level of somatic cell counts (SCC) and total bacterial count (TBC) is also measured and these must not exceed 41,000 cfu/ml and 300,000 cells/ml. respectively, otherwise, penalties are levied on the milk. The milk must also be free of any contamination (i.e. inhibitory substances, antibiotics and added water, and other foreign objects) and the temperature must be less than four degrees. Milk must also be free from physical particles and sediment. To this end, cows’ udders and teats must be clean at milking time and all milk must be filtered to remove any impurities.
FARMER SUPPORT SERVICES
i. Raw Milk Testing – For quality control purposes, the Dendairy laboratory conducts quality testing on key parameters on milk from all supplying farms. The laboratory also uses results from accredited laboratories to compare with their laboratory. The lab can also assist farmers to conduct on-farm tests where necessary, e.g. Somatic Cell Count herd tests. The Dendairy Quality Control Team will be available for advisory testing at the farmer’s request.
ii. Individual Cow Tests – The Dendairy laboratory has the facility to test individual cow samples for Somatic Cell Count. Suppliers are advised that they should test cows at least three times during the lactation period to ensure accuracy of identification of problem high SCC cows.
iii. Competitive Input Sourcing – Dendairy works hand-in-glove with its farmers to link them to key input suppliers negotiating favourable deals in the process. This enables the farmers to keep their key cost drivers in check, hence improving their viability.
iv. Veterinary Services – Veterinary services are a key component of the dairy operation, as animals get sick from time to time and require special treatment and attention. Dendairy has a good network of experienced veterinary doctors with many years’ experience, that they collaborate with to service their farmers on a mutually beneficial win-win basis. This ensures that the cows are kept healthy and productive.
v. Transportation of Milk – Milk transportation is outsourced for all volumes meeting the threshold of 1,000 litres per collection, provided that there are at least five farmers with this volume within a reasonable distance of one another. Any farmer who does not meet the threshold but is in the route of the tanker will also be collected.
Dendairy has worked with its farmers since opening in 2004 to grow together into the country’s biggest dairy processor and is looking to grow its existing farmers and bring onboard new ones.
If you are interested in supplying stock feed, raw materials and other supplies to their farmers please contact the Farm Relationship manager Stanley Mandizha on 0776 349 379
Image provided by Julie Havercroft.