The Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) and the Chitomborwizi Network dairy project is now taking shape as witnessed when all stakeholders involved toured the project in Zvimba last week.
The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week in Harare at ZOU national centre board room. ZOU Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Alfred Champion Ncube put pen to paper for the institution of higher learning while Chitomborwizi chairman Mr Peter Muzariri signed on behalf of the network.
The visit to Chitomborwizi on Friday last week revealed that the network has a number of dairy farmers who have an average of two to three dairy cows each which they got in December 2016, and most of them are on their second lactation stage.
The dairy farmers face a number of challenges that include electricity to keep their milk fresh through refrigeration. In this regard, farmers have resorted to traditional ways of keeping their milk fresh until it gets to the main collection point where there are refrigerated tanks owned by one white farmer who is into dairy farming as well.
It was evident from the tour that almost every farmer averages 30 liters of milk every two days while others make even more that 100 litres per day.
Apart from transport and road network challenges, farmers face problems of diseases, water shortages and animal food shortages as the country is failing to harness rain water.
In this regard, the University, would want to come in and try to help the farmers overcome some of these problems through researches, especially in animal foods and feeds as well as coming up with better ways of making sure that farmers do not run losses because the milk buyers do not accept dirty or clot milk at all. The university will also help through research on some natural herbs that can be used as a substitute to dipping chemicals which are proving expensive for farmers.
The university was offered vast pieces of land on which the institution can build research stations to start the ball rolling. In his opening remarks, the chairman said Chitomborwizi had more than 40 000 hectares of land.
The dairy project got a shot in the arm after the network leadership managed to strike a deal with the country’s leading milk products producer, Nestle Zimbabwe who they supply with milk on a daily basis.