Thyolo District Council and Heifer International will partner to promote dairy farming which has been identified as an alternative source of income as there is little land for cultivation to carter for growing population in the district.
The district council allocated K24 million ($43,636) in its 2015/2016 development budget towards the cause, and Treasury has already released K8 million ($14,545).
Heifer International is already implementing a three-year Dairy Improvement Project in Matapwata Extension Planning Area (EPA) worth $500 310 (about K275 million) . It includes provision of dairy inputs such as medicine and cattle (Heifers) on a pass-on programme.
Speaking on Thursday when Heifer International country director Petronella Halwiindi toured some of the organisation’s impact areas, Thyolo director of planning and development (DPD) Douglas Moffat said the growing population is increasing pressure on land, hence the need to find alternatives.
He said the council is banking on the organisation’s expertise to make Thyolo Malawi’s main milk supplier.
“We have less land against a growing population in Thyolo, currently estimated at around 620 000. This, coupled with the disease that has affected bananas which people rely on, has created problems and the council thinks dairy farming is the best alternative.
“The council has some money from the development budget and we need to partner with Heifer International because of their expertise and vast experience in this field ,” said Moffat.
The DPD said the council wants farmers from areas such as Mtambanyama and Masambanjati to become major milk suppliers like those from Matapwata and Dwale.
On her part, Halwiindi expressed satisfaction with the council’s idea on the partnership. She said officials from her office will soon be meeting the DPD and his team on the pact.
Halwiindi also noted the great potential Thyolo has on dairy farming.
“We are excited at the proposal and we feel encouraged by the fact that the council appreciates our expertise and the need to work together,” she said.
At Mtambanyama Milk Bulking Group, chairperson Mathias Kavalo bemoaned lack of a cooling tank that could be used as a collection point for the milk.
He said the 38 farmers, who received Heifers from the organisation, produce about 650 litres daily, but have no steady buyer.
The organisation recently donated 30 more Heifers to the group, bringing the total number to 80.
Kavalo said this number will be producing 1 000 litres of milk daily, hence the need for the cooling tank.
Halwiindi expressed satisfaction with the progress being made, further pledging to help farmers to build the tank.