Rural dairy defies all odds

Nharira-Lancashire Dairy Co-operative in Chivhu is probably one of the first dairy ventures in rural Zimbabwe to set and maintain professional standards in the production of high quality products. PAMENUS TUSO reports.

Mafa weighing milk supplied by farmers.
Mafa weighing milk supplied by farmers.

In Zimbabwe, high-quality dairy products are usually associated with big dairy manufacturing companies such as Dairiboard. But Nharira-Lancashire’s products have not only become a household name in Chivhu, but have also proved popular in cities such as Mutare, Masvingo and Gweru.

Unofficially started in 1980 by a group of local farmers and officially commissioned by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo in 1986, this co-operative has been rejuvenated after experiencing hard times during the economic meltdown experienced since the turn of the century.

Currently the co-operative has 125 members, but according to the dairy’s supervisor, Edelweiss Mafa, an additional 20 female and 40 male farmers are also actively involved in the project.

“The bulk of the milk that we process here comes from members and other villagers. During the rainy season when there is enough grazing, we process about 9 355 litres of milk a month, but the figures drop down drastically during the dry season, “said Mafa in a recent interview. The centre buys milk from farmers at 70 cents per litre before processing and packaging.

Biogas technology

“We pay farmers for their milk at every month end. Some of our regular and most constant suppliers are female farmers. In fact, there is a female farmer who supplies us with 1 200 litres every month,” said the supervisor.

“I have been a member of the co-operative for more than 10 years. I own six dairy cows that yield about 100 litres of milk on a good day. I am able to send my children to university using proceeds from milk sales. In fact, dairy farming is at the heart of all the farming activities at my homestead,” said dairy farmer, Margret Shoko.

Supervisor Mafa said that the centre, in conjunction with other stakeholders such as the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Association (ZADA) and Agritex, was currently assisting farmers with the setting up of biogas milk processing technology at their homestead.

“Our ultimate objective is to see farmers processing their own milk at their homesteads. We are currently teaching them the technology to hygienically process milk,” said Mafa. So far, six farmers have implemented the necessary technology.

Ever-dwindling pastures

Nharira–Lancashire Dairy Co-operative produces a variety of dairy products such as Amasi milk, yoghurt and other products. The co-operative’s major consumers include local boarding schools, supermarkets and government hospitals. Mafa added that the biggest challenges facing dairy farmers were the shortage of dairy cows and ever-dwindling pastures.

Mafa appealed to readers for volunteers capable of repairing the electric steriliser that is presently out of order.

“Our electrical steriliser has been down for some time now .We are sterilising milk using a wood-powered oven. However, the process poses some environmental challenges for us,” she added.

The Swedish Co-operative Centre facilitated the acquisition of 50 dairy cows for the co-operative in 2011. This NGO also managed to assist the co-operative to acquire a vehicle and manage their electricity bills.

Get in touch! If you would like to volunteer or for more information on this project, please contact Edelweiss Mafa on <span class="skype_c2c_print_container notranslate 078 204 1173</span><span id="skype_c2c_container" class="skype_c2c_container notranslate" dir="ltr" tabindex="-1" onmouseover="SkypeClick2Call.MenuInjectionHandler.showMenu(this, event)" onmouseout="SkypeClick2Call.MenuInjectionHandler.hideMenu(this, event)" onclick="SkypeClick2Call.MenuInjectionHandler.makeCall(this, event)" data-numbertocall="+44782041173" data-isfreecall="false" data-isrtl="false" data-ismobile="false <span class="skype_c2c_highlighting_inactive_common" dir="ltr" skypeaction="skype_dropdown <span class="skype_c2c_textarea_span_ui1" id="non_free_num_ui <img class="skype_c2c_logo_img" src="resource://skype_ff_extension-at-jetpack/skype_ff_extension/data/call_skype_logo.png" height="0" width="0 <span class="skype_c2c_free_text_span_ui1 </span><span class="skype_c2c_text_span_ui1 078 204 1173</span></span></span></span>. Swedish Cooperative Centre: email –

[email protected]

website –

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