Availability of Milk Market Spurs Dairy Farming in Mongu
By Gift Chanda, Communications Officer and Protensia Hadunka, Research Intern
For Mundia Siamana, keeping cattle has been part of his family tradition.
“I have looked after cattle my entire life. At 10years, I would tag along my father whenever he took cattle to graze. I learnt a lot about them and I eventually inherited 30 to start my own herd,” he explains.
The 45-year-old father of seven now owns a herd of 200 cattle that has now become a flourishing business.
Many small-scale cattle farmers like him in Tapo, a few kilometers on the outskirts of Mongu in Western Province, own a few cows, which are milked twice a day to sell locally.
But over the years, finding a stable and reliable market for the milk was a challenge, leading to huge amounts of the product going to waste, much of it due to spoilage.
However, Zammilk, a Zambeef Products Plc dairy division, with the support of Musika, established a processing plant in Mongu, and buys milk from farmers at K4 per litre, which has brought a relief and extra income for Siamana and other farmers.
Part of Musika’s support to Zammilk was through the purchase of bulk milk cooling tanks that have enabled the company to increase the number of farmers participating in the milk market.
“I hardly have any milk going to waste, and before the plant was established, I would raise K300 per month but now I am raising K6, 000 to K7, 000 from the milk sales per month. I no longer have to sell my animals to pay for my children’s school fees because the money from the milk sales is sufficient,” says Mundia.
A year after Zammilk commissioned its milk processing plant in Mongu in December 2015, there has been a dramatic increase in milk collected and processed, from 10,000 litres in the last quarter of 2015 to 134,000 litres in the last quarter of 2016, bringing the annual total for 2016 to 201,000 litres.
The number of farmers supplying Zammilk also increased from 25 to 220.
Zammilk plant manager, Raphael Sichechani, operating the plant in Mongu
Since August 2016, Zammilk has expanded the milk collection points to eighteen from five to now reach over 220 farmers.
“Generally there is a growing confidence in the project from farmers. We are at a point where we are not looking for farmers, they are the ones looking for us,” according to Zammilk plant manager, Raphael Sichechani.
He partly attributes the increase in supply to an increase in the number of farmers and collection points.
“Farmers are now looking at improving their animal breeds through artificial insemination so that they can supply more milk,” he added.
To boost the amount milk collected, Zammilk engaged a private transporter, Enterprise and Technology Park (ETP) which is another firm that Musika supported with a Toyota Hilux under the Western Province milk collection intervention, to collect milk from the farmers and
transporting it to the Zammilk milk processing plant.
Likokoto Mubiana, vice-chairperson of the Nakalembe Milk Collection Centre, says farmers have welcomed the gains in income and shortened distance to the plant.
"I have been able to pay school fees for my children and medical bills from the sale of my milk, unlike before when the milk market was uncertain," said Likokoto.
Since farmers started supplying milk to Zamilk, Likokoto says their income has surpassed previous income from supplying to an open market.
“I used to sell a 20 litre of sour milk at K100 after waiting for five days for it to ferment. This means farmers were only able to make an income of K100 per week. But after we started selling to Zammilk, we are able to sell a 20 litre of fresh milk at K80 every day and earn K480 every week,” he said.
“I have generated enough income from the milk sells and I managed to buy iron sheets for the new house I am planning to build,” he added.