Pilot project helps smallholder farmers increase milk output in Central, Southern, Copperbelt provinces


A pilot project to assist smallholder farmers improve milk output is set to be replicated in other parts of Zambia.

The innovative model being piloted in Central Province (Liteta), Southern Province (Mungaila) and the Copperbelt (Kwanshama), was developed by the Zambia Dairy Transformation Programme (ZDTP).

It is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and implemented by Prime Consulting International in close partnership with the Zambia Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MFL).

ZDTP Programme Country Manager, Marnix Sanderse, expressed confidence that this model worked.

A review of the pilot at Liteta, for example, revealed a difference in the collective milk output of 11,000 litres versus 7,000 litres in the same period last year.

In an interview in Lusaka, Sanderse said having proven the extension model’s success, the ZDTP would like to see it replicated by other smallholder dairy cooperatives across the country.

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“We are confident this model works. With our start-up support, the return on investment quickly materialised through increased milk volumes and improved milk quality for all three cooperatives.

“We are happy to share detailed data and lessons learned from the pilot schemes with any interested parties. Start-up support could be provided by other dairy programmes or by those with private sector interests such as processors,” he said.

He said the aim was to give smallholder dairy farmers the knowledge and tools they needed to make more money from their farming businesses.

Mungaila Dairy Cooperative Society Limited in Choma, Southern Province, also benefitted from the trial, recording its second highest milk volume ever collected in January 2023.

There was a 262 percent increase in milk collected in January-February 2023, compared to the same period last year, said ZDTP Market Systems Officer, Mambwe Kaluba.

“Farmers welcomed the initiative and believed it would be sustainable in the long term because the additional milk volumes translated into more revenue for the cooperative, far exceeding the costs associated with providing extension services,” she said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Zambia, Emma Dunlop-Bennett, said MFAT was delighted to see ZDTP increasing returns to the Zambian dairy sector through increasing the quantity and quality of milk produced by smallholder farmers for commercial sale.

“The success of the new extension model is testament to the strong partnership approach taken by the ZDTP, working closely with a range of key stakeholders including the Government of Zambia and members of the private sector,” Dunlop-Bennett said.

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