Empower Small-Scale Dairy Farmers

COWS are well-known for producing milk which is processed into dairy products such as cream, butter, yoghurt, ice cream as well as cheese.

All these are a source of proteins and also a good source of nutrition for the human body.

It is for this reason that for a normal or growing human body to function properly, one has to at least consume dairy products in their diet as a prerequisite.

Animal milk was first used as human food at the beginning of animal domestication in the Middle East between 9000 and 8000 BC.

The Zambia Dairy Processors Association (ZDPA) and the Land o’ lakes who have operated in Zambia were able to offer free ideas on the use of dairy products to small-scale dairy farmers and these are some of the entities that have been locally promoting the consumption of milk as a dairy product.

Dairy farming also has potential of alleviating poverty not just in rural areas but even among other vulnerable groups such as women once they venture into the dairy industry.

Some women dairy farmers who are key players in the dairy industry have managed to even educate their children up to university level through the sale of milk in particular as they form cooperatives.

The small-scale dairy farmers are another source of milk to companies such as Parmalat and Zambeef. This way, the industry creates job opportunities for people in the agro sector, a clear signal of economic growth.

For the dairy industry to flourish, there is need for small-scale farmers to have adequate knowledge and for this to happen, they require more information on how best to increase their production and, consequently, lead to the growth of the dairy industry leading to the nation meeting the demand for dairy products.

It is encouraging to note that the Government has realised the key role that these small-scale dairy farmers play in the supply chain of dairy products.

It cannot be over-emphasised that small-scale dairy farmers are but an important component in the dairy industry and so they require all the support to sustain their existence in the agriculture sector.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Greyford Monde also made this observation during the 6th annual dairy event held in Chisamba recently.

He revealed that the Government had so far constructed 50 milk collection centres following an increase in milk production from 128 million litres per year in 2005 to 452 million litres by last year.

Mr Monde disclosed that aice and guidance were given on nutrition, artificial insemination and genetics, among others, during the various field days held earlier for more than 200 small-scale farmers in Namwala, Choma and Monze districts of Southern Province.

We totally agree with the observation by the deputy minister that small-scale dairy farmers should be guided and properly aised for them to remain relevant to the dairy industry, without which production of milk and other dairy products cannot be boosted.

Failure to accord small-scale dairy farmers adequate information might result in a slump in the industry, and the nation stands to lose out to other competitors or players who may come on board with better quality milk and related dairy products.

So, much more is needed to give the small-scale dairy farmers in terms of backing for them to produce more for the good of the nation.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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