More than 7 000 smallholder beef and dairy farmers are benefiting from a US$11 million five-year USAID-funded programme which is targeting to boost milk yields and improve livelihoods.
The Feed the Future Zimbabwe Livestock Development Programme is being implemented in six districts in Manicaland, Midlands and Matabeleland South.
This development programme is providing technical assistance to farmers to better their animal husbandry practices and livelihoods.
"We are reaching out to 1 800 beef and 1 200 dairy farmers to help improve output outputs and livelihoods," said Emelda Takaona, communications specialist for Feed the Future Zimbabwe Livestock Development Programme.
"We want to improve their incomes, food and nutritional security. This is a key component of our targets to fight hunger and poverty among rural communities."
Farmers in Umzingwane, Chirumanzu, Gokwe South are benefiting from technical expertise, training and extension services supported by the programme.
Beef and dairy farmers have received training on new animal husbandry practices, stock feed production and storage, milk production and preservation techniques.
Takaona said the major thrust of the programme was to increase milk collection volumes at aggregation centres to at least 12 to 15 litres per cow per day, improve quality of milk and encourage the participation of the youth and women.
"lt's important to enhance the uptake of beef and dairy farming by women and the youth through this beef-dairy-model because it helps improves income, food and nutritional security," she said.
The beef-dairy-village milk aggregation model entails the use of low cost technology, sustainable animal husbandry practices and linkages to markets.
Under the model farmers produce their own stock feed, adopt simple milk storage facility and are connected to financiers, suppliers and markets.
"I'm very happy about the support we are getting from the programme, " said Sarah Ndodha, a dairy farmer from Rusununguko Village in Chirumanzu.
"Dairy farming means money. With good skills, better markets and support we can produce more milk for the nation.
"We are now producing more than 100 litres of milk which we are supplying to Dairibord. We want to do more and supply milk to the nation."
The US$11 million five-year programme started in 2015 and ends in 2020.
"This programme has given us hope to contribute to the country's agricultural goals," said John Matinika, chairman of the Batapako Milk Producers Group in Chirumanzu.
"We are now a shining model here in our province and we hope to share our experiences with others to grow our economy."