By Vimbai Ruvengo (ZiMunda Farming Magazine)
World Milk Day at Malwatte Farm, Marondera.
In 2001, World Milk Day – June 1 was established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) to recognise the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector. The dairy industry worldwide supports the livelihoods of millions of people.
Nestlé Zimbabwe (Private) Limited, one of the operating companies under Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) Limited celebrated this day by showcasing their Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Agro-Prosperity Trust at Malwatte Farm, Marondera. This PPP falls under the Nestlé Dairy Empowerment Scheme (NDES) launched in 2011. The event was graced with government officials, colleagues from Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region, Nestlé Zimbabwe Board, Management and Staff, the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) Executive Management and Board Members, Agroprosperity Trust Trustees, farmers and many more.
“The NDES program is one way we are putting our purpose (unlock the power of food, to enhance the quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come) into action by assisting in Realizing Empowered and Enabled Livelihoods by supporting both commercial and small-scale farmers” stated Mr Luke Gomes, Nestlé Zimbabwe Managing Director during his speech.
Prior to the onset of the NDES, dairy farmers faced several challenges which included lack of technical support, low dairy herd, poor feeding, water challenges and lack of support for Milk collection Centres. In the NDES, small scale farmer development has been accomplished using a Hub and Spoke Strategy in which we anchor small scale farmers/out-growers around an anchor farmer where we create a milk collecting facility. In 2015 the strategy was put to test in Chitomborwizi and thereafter building on its success, Nestlé Zimbabwe moved on to build two other farmer networks using the Hub and Spoke model in Watershed in Hwedza (2019) and Agroprosperity (2020).
During the media tour at Malwatte Farm, the dairy farmer, owner and Agroprosperity founding member, Mr Muzariri took the officials and attendees through critical points and stages of the system, pointing out how NDES, Nestlé Zimbabwe has/is supporting its dairy farmers in this hub;
- Knowledge transfer – farmers are taught good labour practices and animal welfare. The knowledge is in dairy practices as well as the value chain.
- Establishment of milk collection centres by providing cooling tanks. The Trust’s scope is anchored on the mobilisation of high-quality milk from out-growers who bring in the milk in milk containers, which are then weighed and emptied into the cooling tank awaiting collection to Nestlé Harare.
- Solar powered boreholes to address water challenges for irrigation as well as solar powered cooling system to reduce reliance on electricity and diesel for power generation.
- Pasture and Silage support programme which reduces the need for commercial feed. In conventional dairy, farming feed constitutes about 70% of the cost of production per litre of milk. Nestlé encourages all its dairy farmers within the NDES to grow multi-perennial pasture crops such as star grass, lucerne, rye and velvet bean. The pastures can either be grazed, cut and fed to the animals or ground into silage I the miller as shown below. Mr Muzariri expressed his gratitude to Nestlé noting how much the miller received in the program is of importance to Agroprosperity Trust. The trustees have established out-growers for pastures known as Pasture Banks. This is done to increase the availability of feed for silage making. where Legumes such as the velvet bean present an added advantage of fixing nitrogen into the soil, hence reducing fertiliser application on the particular field.
In his closing remarks, Mr Luke Gomes commented that “Our journey remains rooted in being a good corporate citizen and contributing to the bigger picture of Zimbabwe’s economic agenda towards vision 2030 through developing our strategies and making the necessary adjustments to deliver balanced growth and sustainable value for all stakeholders building on the guiding principles of our purpose”.
Images by ZiMunda Farming Team