twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Learning to run a dairy business

IFAD programme to help provide training for small-scale farmers in Malawi

IFAD_Dairy_Farming.eIFAD programme to help provide training for small-scale farmers in Malawi (Pic: IFAD)

Many smallholder farmers in Malawi rely on subsistence farming, which often does not produce enough food for them and their families. Further, these farmers have limited skills and agricultural knowledge to diversify crops or supplement their income from other reliable sources. The IFAD-supported Rural Livelihood Support Programme (RLSP) is implemented in the three southern districts of Chiradzulu, Nsanje and Thyolo in 2004 to tackle these issues and help provide the adequate training small-scale farmers need to diversify crops or develop new businesses.


A participatory approach

The programme works closely with all of the decentralized authorities, such as the District Council, the traditional authorities and the village group headmen, through the Village Development Committee. Using a participatory approach, the communities select which projects they feel they need the most. Projects have ranged from improving crops and rearing livestock to setting up new businesses.

Starting a dairy business

One of the RLSP-supported projects in the Chiradzulu district, the Matuwa Small-scale Dairy Company, has established a profitable business. The project worked closely with the Village Development Committee to teach farmers to milk cows and care for them so that the cows could continue to produce milk. “Before RLSP, we had no animals. We were making a living from casual work, working in other people’s fields,” said Cristina Mpamba, a 33-year-old mother of six who joined the scheme. “I couldn’t even afford to buy soap. Now I have a bigger house and I can send my children to school.”

The project was built around a revolving system whereby farmers were given a loan to buy a cow and build a shed; the loan then was repaid by giving the firstborn female cow to the next beneficiary. The Village Development Committee identified its poorest and most vulnerable members to receive a loan to buy a cow and be trained in the dairy business. With such a system, the animals started to multiply and the business started to expand. “When we started in 2006, we identified 24 farmers who were given 18 animals. Beneficiaries were lined up according to an order, such as by need or vulnerability, and were given the animal according to the order,” explained the Chairman. “We now have 160 cows,” he added.

Selling milk

The project also provided training in livestock rearing, animal health and business and group management. To sell their milk, the farmers deliver it to a bulk storage facility nearby which was developed by the RLSP programme in cooperation with the Shire Highlands Milk Producer Association (SHMPA). SHMPA supplied a 1,500-litre refrigerated steel storage tank; however, that wasn’t enough, so a second 1,200-litre storage tank was provided by Lilongwe Dairy Company. In return for the tanks, farmers guarantee milk supplies to both companies, which collect the milk every morning. The companies also supply the required medication (such as spray against ticks) and vaccines for the animals, which they deduct from the milk payment.

“Prices fluctuate between MK 31/litre [US$0.20] and MK 55/litre [US$0.36], and we produce between 10 and 28 litres per day, depending on how productive the cows are,” said Cristina Mpamba. Male calves are usually sold for meat. “I had one calf which I sold for MK 26,000 [US$172]. I’m hoping for a female because they get us more money,” she added.
Farmers are paid for the quantity of milk that they deliver to the milk storage facility. They have to keep daily records of how much they deliver, and they receive payment at the end of the month. “I can’t read or write, but I know the scale by now so I can recognize and write down the daily figures,” said Ephraim Makawa, one of the committee members and the father of seven children, including two whom he can now afford to send to secondary school.

Earnings

On average, farmers can earn between MK 15,000 (US$99) and 30,000 (US$198) each month from selling milk. “Last month, I brought home MK 18,000 [US$120] net. My cow gave birth three months ago to a male calf so she is producing 15 litres a day,” said Joyce Kilowe, one of the most recent members who was employed as a casual labourer before the project. “I reserved some of the money for buying maize, and with the rest I bought children’s clothes and kitchen utensils.” She joked, “We have to look good, we are business people!” She is now waiting for her cow to give birth to a heifer to be able to repay her debt.

To feed the animals, farmers fetch grass or even pay someone to fetch it because that is labour-intensive work. To keep the animals healthy, the farmers have to complement the grass with maize blend, which is costly – MK 600 (US$4) per month. Veterinary services, particularly artificial insemination, are also expensive. “Artificial insemination is very expensive. Depending on the quality of semen, it can vary from MK 800 to 3,500 [US$5.30 to $23] each time. It doesn’t necessarily work every time, but we still have to pay when it is administered,” explained Ephraim.


In addition to livestock, the farmers grow small crops such as maize, groundnut, soya and beans for their own consumption needs. They all feel they’re able to work as a committee without trouble or conflict, but their priority now is to have more animals to be able to sell more milk and earn more money. “We really see the benefits the project has brought,” they all said unanimously.

 


LATEST NEWS IN Cattle

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-…

Intracare, developer and supplier of products for veterinary health and nutrition, has come up with the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage, which will be available worldwide

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustainable feed solutions for small-scale producers

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustai…

Nutreco, a global animal nutrition leader, has received a US$4.8mn grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the implementation of localised, sustainable complete feed production in sub-Saharan...

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

As price volatility propels the use of alternative feed ingredients, Adisseo's team discusses how the quality of diets and the performance of animals can be maintained in such situations

Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

Tackling transboundary animal diseases i…

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health...

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure safety in animal food products

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure sa…

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) are working with Zambian experts to address drug resistant microbes as well as food contamination in meat...

Evonik publishes first edition of animal diet

Evonik publishes first edition of animal…

Evonik, a German-based specialty chemicals company has published the first edition of the MetAMINO ATLAS displaying the results of 15 performance trials investigating the relative bioavailability of supplementary methionine sources...

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Cattle

Kenyan dairy farm project set up by Italian investors

Kenyan dairy farm project set up by Ital…

Italian firm Sace-Servizi Internazionali, together with nine specialists in the beef and dairy value chain, is investing US$20mn in a model dairy farm at MoiUniversity in Eldoret, Kenya

Ireland to foster collaboration with Algeria and Egypt for agri-food exports

Ireland to foster collaboration with Alg…

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Bord Bia, the Irish food board, will lead a trade mission to Algeria and Egypt, together with a delegation representing the...

DLG-Agrifuture Insight: Mixed prospects for farm business development

DLG-Agrifuture Insight: Mixed prospects …

October’s "Chart of the Month" from DLG-Agrifuture Insights survey shows mixed prospects for farm business developments in Germany, Netherlands, UK, Brazil and China

Gates Foundation awards US$8 million grant to East Africa dairy project

Gates Foundation awards US$8 million gra…

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Heifer International an US$8 million grant to support its East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project

New dairy breed

New dairy breed

AT A RECENT Ol Kalou Agricultural Fair, in Kenya’s Highlands, one stand elicited much interest to the local farming community. A recently introduced German dual purpose breed Fleckvieh became a...

Big meat enterprise planned in Rwanda

Big meat enterprise planned in Rwanda

The Rwandan government is planning a project spread over 4,500,000 sq m aimed chiefly at beef production on a sustainable commercial basis

USAID initiates cattle tagging project in Kenya

USAID initiates cattle tagging project i…

USAID, in conjunction with the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC), has initiated an US$84,000 livestock identification project in northern Kenya to curb cattle theft

Automated weather stations to help Ethiopian herders

Automated weather stations to help Ethio…

Automated weather stations (AWS) are being installed in some of Ethiopia’s lowlands to help herders and other climate-vulnerable residents respond better to recurring shocks related to climate change

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure safety in animal food products

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure sa…

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) are working with Zambian experts to address drug resistant microbes as well as food contamination in meat...

SADC adopts strong move to fight AMR

SADC adopts strong move to fight AMR

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states, in partnership with WHO, OIE and FAO, has organised a two-day workshop to come up with an antimicrobial resistance (AMR) strategy

Free cattle drugs issued in South Sudan

Free cattle drugs issued in South Sudan

The Jonglei state government has announced it will provide free drugs for treating East Coast Fever (ECF) to cattle keepers in Bor county, South Sudan

Prev Next