By LOYD MATARE

NESTLÉ Zimbabwe says the drive to empower small-scale farmers in rural areas is bearing fruit as the initiative continues to shape the mindset of dairy farmers through provision of agriculture entrepreneurship skills.

Speaking during the World Milk Day in Harare yesterday, the company’s corporate communications and public affairs director Saint-Francis Tohlang said through the Nestlé Dairy Empowerment Scheme (NDES), the company had managed to create several economic opportunities for farmers in rural settings.

“The NDES programme has evolved over the years to focus on agri-preneurship. 

“We support our dairy farmers and farming partners to be agri-preneural, creating economic opportunities and social impact in rural communities, which is part of our Nestlé vision and purpose.

“Prior to the onset of the NDES, dairy farmers faced several challenges which included lack of technical support, low dairy herd, poor feeding, water challenges and lack of support on milk collection centres.

“At the start of the programme, we had no small-scale farmers and we began to build these from 2015.

“We are happy to report that we now have three small-scale farmer groups, Chitomborwizi in Mashonaland West, Watershed in Hwedza, and Agro Prosperity Trust in Marondera. 

“These groups have almost 70 individual dairy farmers in total,” Tohlang said.

He further said that Nestlé Zimbabwe also supported the dairy farmers through establishing milk collection centres and supplying solar powered boreholes, pasture and silage support, solar powered cooling system to reduce reliance on electricity and diesel for power generation and knowledge transfer.

Speaking at the same event, the company’s corporate communications and public affairs manager Yamurai Zhou said from 2018 milk production had increased from 1,9 million to 3,4 million litres due to efforts made by the company in extending dairy projects to the small-scale farmers in rural areas. – Daily News