NESTLE Zimbabwe last week presented 40 dairy cows to eight women from the Zimbabwe Women Land and Agriculture Trust under its US$14 million dairy empowerment revolving scheme.
The Swiss-headquartered firm is targeting to import 8 000 dairy cows from South Africa in the next four years to shore up milk supply for its operations. The third phase of the scheme was held at Gwebi College and eight women from Mashonaland East, West and Central received five dairy cows each.
The predominantly Jersey, Friesland and Jersey-Friesland cost an average US$1 800 each.
Nestle Zimbabwe country manager Mr Kumbirai Katsande said the revolving scheme is targeting both large-scale commercial farmers and small-scale farmers.
"We will assist members of the trust in setting up dairy projects on their farms by sourcing dairy cows and by providing technical assistance.
"As there is currently a shortage of dairy cows in the country, Nestle has imported heifers from South Africa," said Mr Katsande.
Nestle has so far distributed about 400 heifers. President of the trust Mrs Phedis Mazhawidza said the women were committed and will do their best to contribute towards the revival of the dairy industry in Zimbabwe.
"We had problems with sourcing funds but with this scheme from Nestle, we are in it and we are ready to make our contribution," she said. "We will continue to seek partnerships with relevant groups and companies."
Mr Katsande said the next phase would soon be launched in Matabeleland North, the hub of dairy farming in Zimbabwe.
Similar programmes would also be launched in other provinces in including Midlands and Manicaland.
About 25 members of the trust had shown interest but only eight managed to receive the cows.
Nestle has also identified Gwebi and Chibero agricultural colleges as partners for diary empowerment scheme and would be assisted in setting up dairy farming.
Mr Katsande said this was a gesture towards the goal of rebuilding Zimbabwe's dairy industry.
Zimbabwe produced about 260 million litres per year compared to the current national milk production of 50 million litres.
Nestle is a manufacturer of such brands as Cerevita, Cerelac, Everyday, Nesquick, Nido, Ricoffy, Milo, Nescafe and Maggi powder soups.