Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
ONE of the country’s first communal farmers dairy establishments, Umzingwane Diary Association in Matabeleland South Province has registered as a co-operative as it moves to comply with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) regulations and to enable it to trade with bigger retailers.
The association’s chairperson, Mrs Sheillah Lupuwana, said the organisation was now referred to as Umzingwane Dairy Co-operative Society Limited after it was successfully registered as a co-operative by the Registrar of Co-operative Societies Zimbabwe on 23 August.
The organisation opted to operate as a co-operative after most of its clients stopped purchasing its milk products citing that the association was not registered with statutory institutions such as Zimra.
“We resolved to be a co-operative as most retail outlets were no longer buying our products because we didn’t have a BP (Business Partner) number. When we decided to get a BP number, Zimra advised us to first register as an association as we were not legally registered thus we approached the Deeds Office for registration but we ended up deciding against the idea as the fees were astronomical for us and we decided to register as a co-operative,” said Mrs Lupuwana.
A BP number acts as the business’ identification number and is used for all transactions with Zimra, including remittances of tax.
“We are hoping registering as a co-operative will enable us to conform to Zimra regulations and expedite the process of acquiring a BP number,” said Mrs Lupuwana.
A non-governmental organisation, Melane has pledged to assist the co-operative in its efforts to enhance productivity through the provision of high yielding dairy cows.
“We have found a donor, Melane. It has expressed willingness to assist us to improve our production and operations and we are hoping to have a long lasting relationship with them. So far the organisation facilitated a feasibility study tour for our farmers at Kefalos. It’s our hope that the organisation will continue to link us with bigger processors to enable us to enhance our production.
“It has also promised to source us good dairy cow breeds. We have been facing challenges in getting quality breeds over the years and most times we have been duped by some unscrupulous milk producers and processors into buying poor low yielding breeds with most of the animals dying after a short while,” said Mrs Lupuwana.
The co-operative is producing sour milk at its Umzingwane Milk Centre and selling the products to communities within Umzingwane District and individuals on transit.
“We are selling sour milk and amasi to locals and when we get our BP number we will further explore our traditional markets of Bulawayo, Filabusi and Gwanda,” said Mrs Lupuwana.
The co-operative is made up of 36 members although at its formation in 2001 it had 60 members but others opted out over the years.
This year two commercial farmers have been delivering milk at the processing plant, Mr Gavin Canter and Ms Catroina Stone with the latter having joined the co-operative.
The co-operative intends to replace its obsolete milk processing plant and cold room it has been using since it started operating in 2001.
It is also looking forward to buying refrigerated trucks for collecting milk from milking points to the milk centre.
As part of its strategy to enhance its enterprise, Umzingwane Dairy Co-operative Society Limited is appealing for land to turn into a fodder farm as well as funding to procure modern milk processing machinery.