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Ruminant Nutrition and Forage Utilization
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2001;14(8): 1098-1105.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2001.1098    Published online August 1, 2001.
Case Study of the Viability of Smallholder Dairy Farming in Nharira-Lancashire, Zimbabwe
Joseph Francis, Simba Sibanda
Abstract
There is little information on smallholder dairy farming in Zimbabwe. With such inadequate knowledge, no meaningful decisions on how to improve these systems can be made. A study was, therefore, carried out in Nharira communal area and Lancashire small-scale commercial area to provide information on the viability of dairy farms. This paper is based on data obtained through participatory monitoring of 13 smallholder dairy farms in 1996 and 1997. All the four farms in Lancashire were found to be viable in both years. In Nharira, two out of the nine farms in 1996 and three farms in 1997 failed to break even. There were considerable inter-farm differences in the contribution of milk sales towards total income from dairy farming, ranging from 41% to 99% in Nharira and 71% to 81% in Lancashire in 1996. Corresponding estimates in 1997 were 51-95% and 72-78%, respectively. Expenses on cattle feeds contributed 36-84% in 1996 and 37-80% in 1997 towards total variable costs in Nharira. In Lancashire, the respective estimates were 15-33% and 22-36%. Seven out of the nine studied farms in Nharira and three out of four in Lancashire realized higher gross margin (GM) in 1997 than in 1996. All these farming households had conserved considerable amounts of farm-grown feeds. It was concluded that feed costs, number of cows and sizes of land holdings were the main factors determining viability of smallholder dairy farming. The major challenge to smallholder dairy farming in Nharira, in particular, was to develop low-cost feeding strategies.
Keywords: Smallholder Dairy Farming; Participatory Monitoring; Viability; Zimbabwe


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