The Sunday News
Belinda Moyo, Farming Reporter
MILK deliveries at the communal farmers owned Umzingwane Milk Centre in Matabeleland South Province have significantly slumped owing to rampant dairy cows thefts and lack of adequate pastures.
Umzingwane Dairy Co-operative Society Limited chairperson Mrs Sheillah Lupuwana said the organisation’s members have lost 12 dairy cows due to theft this year affecting milk deliveries at its milk processing plant, Umzingwane Milk Centre at Mawabeni Business Centre.
“I personally lost nine dairy cows in one day after thieves stole them at one of the communal grazing areas. As an association we have lost 12 cows this year and this has immensely affected our milk production as it has dropped from 4 000 litres to 1 200 litres a month,” she said.
Mrs Lupuwana said most of the farmers’ livestock was prone to theft as the animals are being forced to graze at communal grazing lands, which are a distance from their farms due to depleted pastures.
“Inadequate pastures have made thieves to easily steal our animals as they are grazing far from our farms and as such it becomes difficult to monitor them,” she said.
Mrs Lupuwana said plans were underway to apply for a piece of land and turn it into a fodder farm so as to ensure sufficient feed for the organisation’s dairy cows.
“Our main challenge is water and land. If only authorities could allocate us land we will be in a position to practice zero grazing (feed cattle with cut grass brought to them instead of putting them out to pasture) and grow our own fodder. This will help improve our milk production and lessen theft as we will be closely monitoring our animals,” she said.
Umzingwane Dairy Co-operative Society Limited, which used to be known as Umzingwane Dairy Association was formed by a group of rural farmers, mostly women, from Umzingwane District in 2002.
At its peak the association, which used to have 45 members but currently has 15 active members, used to produce about 5 000 litres a month, producing pasteurised milk, yoghurt, ice-cream and dairy juices.