Small-scale Dairy Producers
Monday, April 14, 2008
By Joan Chirwa
Dairy farming is one of the most rewarding agri-businesses which can help reduce poverty in rural areas, says Rebecca Mumba, a retired journalist.
An industry largely driven by small-holder farmers located in different parts of the country, the dairy sector has recorded numerous improvements over the years, with the small-scale producers accounting for the largest milk production figures on an annual basis.
According to recent statistics, smallholder dairy farmers last year contributed 60 per cent of the total milk production in Zambia. The medium to large-scale commercial farmers accounted for the remaining 40 per cent of Zambia’s milk production in 2007. However, a number of smallholder dairy farmers face numerous challenges in milk production, among them lack of electricity to run the cooling system for milk before it is sold.
“All the dairy farmers under the Fisenge Dairy Business Association in Luanshya do not have electricity at their farms and this is one of the major challenges we have in milk production,” said Mumba who is also director of the Fisenge Dairy Business Association in Luanshya and secretary of the Twikatane Women’s Co-operative Group.
“The connection fees are very high and it is impossible for the small-holder farmers to have electricity at their farms. Our only appeal is that Zesco should try and put a power line along the area where there are farms so that farmers can easily connect their areas.”
Mumba says Zesco Limited should come up with a deliberate policy to connect most of the farming areas in the country in order to enhance the performance of the agriculture sector.
“If Zesco can have a deliberate policy of connecting small-holder farmers, that will help a lot in making farmers more productive in milk production as wastage will be reduced,” Mumba says. “Farmers currently lose a lot of milk per day as it goes to waste because of lack of refrigeration.”
Mumba notes that Zambia’s dairy industry had great potential for growth once the smallholder farmers were given appropriate support for their development.
“The small-holder farmers need financing. There are several types of equipment needed in order to advance the dairy industry but this cannot be done because women do not have access to financing from banks,” Mumba says.
Mumba, a former employee of the then Zambia Information Services retired in 1991, and later decided to get into farming.