Twenty six farmers in Mchinji on Tuesday passed-on 26 heifer cows to other beneficiaries of Heifer International’s Pass-On the Gift Project, which has since seen over 100 farmers owning dairy cows from the initial 45 organisation donated to farmers in the district in 2010.
Speaking during the cows’ pass-on ceremony in Mchinji, Bua Milk Bulking Group chairperson Gasiano Simango said the dairy cows are uplifting their economic livelihood, adding the group is now planning to graduate into a dairy cooperative to realise maximum gains.
“Although it has not been easy to feed these cows, those who have benefited have worked very hard to ensure that the cows do not die. We have had three pass-ons and today we are passing on 26 more cows. What we still need is more training in areas like animal health and marketing,” said Simango.
He, however, said more farmers in the area want to receive the heifer pass-ons because they have seen the livestock uplifting livelihoods of initial beneficiaries of the project through milk sales and provision of manure.
Mchinji district agriculture development officer (Dado) Nevson Hlongo said 277 farmers have since benefited from Heifer International support on various livelihood projects in the district.
“The figure also includes those who have received goats. The farmers are also benefiting from manure which they are getting from animals. There is a woman who has already ferried 47 ox-carts of manure to her field,” said Hlongo.
He, however, appealed for support of chemicals, to prevent possible spread of East Coast Fever disease which could threatens survival of the cows in the district.
Heifer International country director Petronella Halwiindi said they helped the farmers to secure a diary market in Lilongwe through the project they are implementing in partnership with Usaid, adding they have since trained the farmers in dairy management, natural resource management and other social issues, apart from providing boreholes.
Heifer Netherlands project coordinator Gijs Paaimans said the Mchinji farmers have demonstrated hard-work to raise the cows and ensure they move out of poverty.