Dr Penny Back from Massey University discusses the importance of pasture quality and management to dairy cow health and nutrition.
ZDTP study tour to New Zealand

"A perfect 10" – participants rate study tour experience and insights gained on how to be a successful dairy farmer

Twelve current and future leaders of the Zambian dairy industry travelled to New Zealand to soak up knowledge and inspiration and understand how “dairy as a business” has grown in the country from the 1800s to today.

Dairy farmers and industry leaders from Zambia travelled to New Zealand this past March to learn about the small Pacific nation’s dairy sector and associated value chain. The 10-day tour, organised by the New Zealand-funded Zambia Dairy Transformation Programme (ZDTP), visited a range of organisations and working farms in New Zealand and highlighted similarities and differences between the two countries’ dairy industries.

Led by Dr Benson Mwenya, the Permanent Secretary of Zambia’s Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MFL), the study tour delegation visited and engaged with several New Zealand government ministries and agencies, teaching and resource institutes with responsibilities in the agriculture sector, working farms and organisations supporting disease eradication, animal tracing and training of industry personnel.

These included the Ministry for Primary Industries (the New Zealand equivalent of MFL), Massey University, AgResearch, DairyNZ, the Dairy Women’s Network, Federated Farmers, the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), Farmlands, OSPRI and the country’s Primary Industry Training Organisation.

It left me with a greater determination to commit and succeed at my dairy business by employing some cost-effective practices that worked for New Zealand and could be adapted to our country too.

Mrs Caroline Lubinga, who has been dairy farming since 2013, rated her study tour experience “a perfect 10” and said she returned home with big plans for developing her business.

Lusaka-based ZDTP Programme Country Manager Tania Thomson, who joined the Study Tour, said it was an extremely effective mechanisation for bringing together and mobilising a group of dairy industry leaders in Zambia. Delegates included members from MFL’s Headquarters and Provincial and District Offices, representatives from the Dairy Association of Zambia (DAZ), farmers from some of the ZDTP’s target cooperatives and two ZDTP staff.

Specific areas of focus were:

  • Low cost dairy production
  • Farmer-based organisations
  • Inspectorate and food testing functions
  • Herd development using Artificial Insemination (AI)
  • Links between research and dairy producers
  • Industry regulation and oversight

Mrs Thomson said her ZDTP extension team was now working with farmers to apply tips and techniques learned during the study tour in a way that suited the local operating environment.

“It’s essential that we build on and leverage the knowledge and enthusiasm gained on the tour.”

Caroline Lubinga and Mirriam Mbazima considering purchasing tail paint from Farmlands after hearing about its merits during an earlier session at LIC.

Delegates also shared feedback on how they thought the policy environment could be improved in Zambia, based on what they had learnt on the tour. Ms Jedrine Mushili, a veterinary assistant with MFL, said she hoped the Government of Zambia might invest money in research that would help breed an animal genetically suited for the environmental conditions of Zambia.

Ms Mushili was impressed with New Zealand’s farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corporation, or LIC, which has provided genetics expertise, information and technology (i.e. high-grade sperm for use in artificial insemination) to the dairy sector for more than 100 years.  

Mr Mulusa agreed the Government had a role to play in Zambia.

“There is need for political will towards supporting the dairy industry. It’s clear that – if done properly – dairy farming could contribute significantly to the country’s GDP.”

The ZDTP is being implemented by Prime Consulting International Ltd in partnership with NIRAS International Development. It is funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme. For further information on the programme, please visit zambiadairy.com or contact Programme Country Manager Tania Thomson on tania@primeconsultants.net or +260 96 456 4206.