THREE communities in Zimba district in Southern Province are benefiting from three newly constructed livestock dip facilities, as part of Silverlands Ranching Limited’s livestock improvement programme.
According to a statement issued by Silverlands Ranching Limited, the programme started in 2014 and now covers over 50,000 community cattle dippings per month.
The new dip stations are located in Siameja, Shangu and Chidi areas of Zimba district.
“After attracting investment in 2014 from SilverStreet Capital, an impact investor with experience building successful out-grower programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa, Silverlands Ranching began the Silverlands Livestock Improvement Community programme, known locally as “SLIC”, to assist small-scale cattle farmers in the area,” the statement read.
“After six successful years, cattle mortality in the district has now decreased by 80 per cent and calving rates have increased by 19 per cent, leading to a significant increase in household income.”
The statement added that the SLIC programme benefited more than 2,000 small-holder livestock farmers and 3,000 cropping farmers in Zimba.
Silverlands Ranching Limited (SRL) senior livestock technician Lewis Mutinta said the success of the project could be attributed to their approach.
“We operate by invitation only. Only when we are asked to engage with communities do we come forward and provide extension services for better animal husbandry and improved farming practices,” said Mutinta.
The SLIC programme, the statement added, has been run in collaboration with Musika and, from a standing start in 2014, “has refurbished and built dip stations for 31 communities, sustained and managed by committees made up of community members.”
It stated that before the SLIC programme started, tick-borne diseases were rife in Zimba district, resulting in high livestock mortality and low calving rates due to the lack of operational dip stations.
Ackim Matambo, a small-holder farmer and committee member at Chidi dip facility, said before the dipping facility was constructed in the area, farmers used alternative methods such as the hand or knapsack sprayer to control ticks on their cattle.
“Some of the farmers however took no form of action as they did not have enough money to purchase hand sprayers and acaricide. Moreover, most of the farmers who made use of hand sprayers did not spray their animals regularly which meant they did not control the ticks and tick-borne diseases effectively,” said Matambo.
Silverlands Ranching Limited stated that due to the extreme drought in Southern Province, small-holder cattle farmers sold cattle to free up funds for other needs.
“Dipping cattle in the area has therefore become even more important for them. A unique and trusted market for small-holder farmers to sell their cattle in Zimba has also been created by Silverlands Ranching by weighing cattle at purchase alongside farmers,” the statement read.
“A total of 8,400 community cattle has been purchased to date, providing small-holder farmers in Zimba with access to a national beef value-chain and allowing them to grow as the industry expands. The model offers a unique and sustainable way for small-holder cattle farmers and the business to profit together.”
Meanwhile, Silverlands Ranching managing director, Steven Sprighton, says he is proud of the work already achieved.
He explained that by focusing on small-holder farmers’ cattle, Silverlands was providing a local market for farmers, who otherwise would have to travel great distances to sell their cattle.
“As the programme has expanded, Silverlands has also assisted small-holder farmers in growing sunflower and maize which is then bought by the company to make feed for cattle,” noted Sprighton.