Mozambique government, partners join forces to improve dairy farming

Text written by: Charles Mangwiro

MACHAIANE, (Mozambique) Arnaldo Dimande, a peasant farmer in the region of Machiane, saw a chance to transform his ambition of becoming a milk producer into reality when a United States Department of Agriculture USDA-funded Land O’Lakes dairy project was launched in the district of Manhica, situated in the southern province of Maputo, Mozambique.

Because of the climate and availability to different markets in the area, the USDA and Land O’Lakes International Development wanted to help resuscitate a Mozambique dairy farming history and grow small-scale farmers in one of Mozambique’s top animal producing locations.

Land O Lakes introduced a once off pilot heifer transfer project in 2014 to help subsistence farmers rebuild Mozambique’s dairy industry to meet market demand and increase incomes for smallholder farmers by participating in a sustainable dairy value chain. The program provided inputs (dairy cows), training (fodder crop and pasture management, animal husbandry), and assistance in establishment of producer cooperatives, milk collection centres and marketing campaigns.

Land O Lakes subsequently trained 193 farmers for a month and then after having taught the whole process for milk production the company offered a cow to a farmer to reproduce and offer the calve to another beneficiary. But today, the project is non-existent and was moved to other regions of the country.

 “I was among the first group of beneficiaries who received one cow each in 2015. The Land O’Lakes Project provided us with training in feed and fodder-making techniques, pasture management, milk collection and marketing, and animal husbandry. It also showed us how to increase productivity by using the cattle to cultivate crops,” Dimande said.

Dimande now has seven cows, four of which are milked, and on a good day, he may yield as little as 30 litres.

He said: “This (Land O lakes) was a brilliant idea and it was promising but the project has ceased to exist and we are now struggling to make ends meet. We are struggling to take good care of the animals, particularly their health and food. If the cows would be healthy, I would produce up to 100 litres of milk a day. One litre of fresh milk costs 50 meticais and that would fetch 5000 meticais (U$79). Dimande sells his milk alongside other farmers by the roadside highway that runs through Machaiane from the capital, Maputo to the northern regions of the country.

Dimande claims he spends at least 560 meticais (US$ 9) per day feeding the cows.

In the Manhiça district, he said, he and other farmers raise Jersey exotic breeds and cut native grass, chop them up, and feed them to the animals in feeding troughs.

“Farmers use molasses and water diluted in a 1:10 ratio on the grass (1litre to 10 litres). For feeding cows, a few farmers combine natural grass with chopped sugarcane top. The cows are kept permanently in a barn and fed in stalls. The majority of cows do not fulfill the genetically modified breed’s nutrition needs, which include forages,” said Dimande.

Another farmer, Justino Mungove, stated that animal health is another issue that farmers confront.

“We already have a problem feeding the cows, but we also have to deal with mastitis (an inflammatory condition affecting the mammary gland of cows), which lowers milk output,” he said.
“Milk from ill animals has an impact on the end product in Mungove since it is sold fresh to residents in Manhiça district and then turned into yogurt by purchasers in the neighboring Xai-Xai district.”

According to Gomes Paulo Tivane, chairman of the local Milk Collection Centre, Cooperativa Leitera Hluvucane Vafiu Machiana, there are potential milk producers and buyers in the Manhiça and Xai-Xai districts in Southern Mozambique.

“The daily monetary earnings from the sale of milk and milk products have a positive impact on rural households’ financial flow. Farmers who used to make an average of $106 per month from dairy farming were formerly considered wealthy. This is a lucrative enterprise. “The most successful dairy producers may treble their net income to $190 per month and boost milk output to an average of 32,000 liters per month, or more than 15 liters per cow each day,” Tivane added.

Mozambique’s government has made significant institutional changes in its policies and plans during the last decade in order to promote sustainable development and the rational and sustainable use of natural resources.

The government’s National Research Fund, FNI, is playing a role in research and training as a result of this. FNI, in general, is charged with developing new goods and technologies via research and bringing them to the market.

To boost output and productivity, farmers’ groups, the corporate sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should adopt the FNI’s innovative goods and technology.

Dr. Damiao Nguluve, the head of department at FNI, stated in an interview that his institution is about to launch a research targeted at integrating and adding value to dairy producers, native fruits, yogurt manufacturing, and marketing.

“To boost milk output, farmers like Dimande will be taught how to make milk from a complete mixed diet. Agriculture is their primary source of income, and livestock play a critical role in poverty reduction and nutritional household food security,” said Nguluve, who also noted that cow milk production increased by about 11 percent last year, with 63 percent of milk processed by the milk industry and the remaining 37 percent sold in informal markets.
 
Mozambique production of milk was at level of 557,859 thousand tonnes in 2020

“We’re launching this project to examine milk cattle production methods, as well as milk and milk product marketing, in order to identify the key impediments to dairy farming production.”

Farmers rearing and milking cattle, buyers and sellers of milk and milk products are the main actors in Manhiça district, Maputo province, and Xai-Xai district, southern Gaza province, both districts in Southern Mozambique.

 

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