Production and supply of milk by small-scale dairy farmers is creating a large number of jobs for youths, thus enhancing rural development and preventing rural-urban migration.
Photo: G. S. Pandey

17.11.2014

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Supporting smallholder farmers is one of the best ways to fight poverty and ensure food security. Such support involving the active participation of smallholder farmers in Zambia has demonstrated a significant increase in farmers’ engagement in general and an improvement in milk production, resulting in nutritional food security both at household and national level and income for the poor farmers.

Making smallholder dairy production more competitive is becoming a powerful tool for reducing poverty, raising nutrition levels and improving the livelihoods of a large number of rural poor people. The dairy is an activity 365 days a year, unlike crop farming, where farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture. This presents a unique opportunity to establish sustainable dairy chains that can meet the demands of local consumers and of the regional market, as can be seen in the following example.

A favourable context

Zambia’s estimated three million cattle (dairy and beef) are owned by three categories of farmers. Traditional cattle keepers own about 80 per cent of cattle and their livestock products rarely enter the commercial chain, unless for compelling reasons. The second group is commercial farmers, who own less than six per cent of the cattle and are market-oriented with improved animal husbandry practices. The third category of farmers is smallholder (dairy/beef) farmers who have a market-oriented approach to livestock keeping and own about 14 per cent of the cattle.

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