The need for increased livestock production is pressing, given the rapidly growing demand for animal products and the important contribution of livestock to the incomes and welfare of the rural poor communities.
In many respects the dairy and chicken farming are income generating activities in most of the rural areas in the country which assists the poor communities to transforming their lives from poverty to a better living.
Heifer International Tanzania has come up with the Kilosa-Bagamoyo dairy and chicken farming project so as to ensure that rural families in both districts are transforming their livelihood through livestock keeping in modern methods.
When speaking with the reporter recently cattle farmers of Kilosa and Bagamoyo have applauded the philosophy of pass on gift from Heifer International Tanzania and requested them to bring the push-pull technology to their areas so as to improve cereal and livestock productivity in their dry areas.
Juhudi dairy farmers group chairperson from Kilosa Salum Mgome said that they have already got training on how to implement the technology of which they visited to the farmers in Kenya who started implementing the technology more than ten years ago.
“We supported by the Heifer International Tanzania and went to Kenya and saw what dairy cattle farmers are doing on this project, the project is very benefit to us since it in the sense that it uses minimal inputs thus enhancing sustainable food production in the climate change challenged communities,” he said.
He added: “The government has to learn from what Heifer International Tanzania is doing on assisting the rural community with the pass on gift philosophy that ensures farmers to improve their lives by being given domestic animals”
He pointed out that in April this year their group have received more than 15 dairy cattle of which 14 are heifers and one bull in a pass on gift philosophy.
“We are planning to pass on gift of the heifers in May next year because many of us who received the heifers in April this year are planning to have calf next year, hence we will also give to others the gift we received freely from Heifer International so as to ensure the poverty free generations in our communities,” he said
Kiwangwa dairy farmers group from Bagamoyo, Coast region Chairperson Ayubu Mtolo said that they also faced with the problem of pastures to feed their cattle hence call on the support from their partners to assists them on the new technology of Push-Pull of which they believe that could assists them getting enough pastures.
He also said that the lives of the most of the people in rural areas are not good hence there are many people who need dairy cattle to improve their lives through selling milk.
“Many people are needing this project because would assists to improve their lives, as well as getting food to feed their families, we urged the development partners and the government to look on the efforts to ensure that many people in rural areas are implemented by this project” he said
For his part, Heifer International Tanzania Livestock Consultant Zengo Mikomangwa said that their organization are faced with the shortage of funds but if they would get enough fund they will increase the number of people who are in need.
“There are lot of people as you said here who need the support from us to improves their lives, but if we could get enough funds, we promise to bring the project to you so that to see you are lives are changing,” he said
Zengo also said that Heifer is planning to bring the Push-Pull technology to dairy cattle farmers in Kilosa and Bagamoyo so as to assists the farmers end hunger and poverty in their family since the technology bring enough food for the family and for the cattle.
Push-pull is a novel cropping system developed by ICIPE and partners for integrated soil, pest and weed management in cereal-based farming systems. It involves attracting insect pests (stem borers) with trap plants (pull) while driving them away from the main crop using a repellent intercrop (push).
“The dairy sector occupies a special position among the other sectors of agriculture. Milk is produced everyday and gives a regular income to the numerous small producers.
Milk production is highly labour-intensive and provides a lot of employment in rural areas hence Heifer International will continue supporting rural farmers,” he said
He commended: “The dairy industry is the sector with the highest degree of protection due to the economically vulnerable position of small milk producers. Milk - also known as white gold - can be used to make an enormous variety of high quality products”
On chicken project, Zengo said that more than 280 villagers from Bagamoyo district, Coast region and Kilosa district in Morogoro region have been have been trained on better rearing techniques aimed at producing better and tasty breeds of traditional chickens so as to transform their indigenous poultry sector from a conventional subsistence activity into a commercial business.
He revealed that villagers were trained on different issues, ranging from chicken selection, eggs management, marketing, and diseases controls so as to produce better chickens.
“If this sector is managed well, it will remain an important gear in scaling down poverty levels amongst the underprivileged villagers in the country, we as Heifer International we are doing all efforts to ensure that people in rural areas especially those who are living in poverty are assisted by any means to transforming their lives,” she said.
Mikomangwa also said that the project involved 9 villages in the two districts, of which 7 villages are from Kilosa district while 3 villages are from Bagamoyo district, whereby after the training in every villagers formed groups to ensure that they pass on the gift to other villagers to ensure every villager in need are involved with the project.
He named the villages that benefited by the project as Kiromo, Mataya, and Kitopeni in Bagamoyo district, while in Kilosa are Kitete, Magomeni, Malui, Tindiga, Chabima, Zombo and Ihombwe.
“We provided more than 840 chickens to more than 280 villagers who received a training, we help them to understand that through chicken farming they will find a reliable source of income by selling chickens and eggs, since it is a Heifer International’s pass on gift philosophy, they also suppose to give to others the chicks they get after withholding,” he said
The Project consultant expressed optimism that the sector was very promising for people at the grass-roots level who have limited sources of income.
Kilosa district agricultural and livestock development officer Nicodemus Nzengo commended Heifer International for coming up with the initiative, saying the move would increase the number of local chickens in their district and also improve the villagers’ livelihoods.
One of the beneficiaries of the project Mwanaisha Hemedi from Mkwatani village in Kilosa said “I thank Heifer International for coming up with the training and give us the chicken without even the paying a single cent, the training itself has changed our mindsets and the way of doing things, as earlier we never thought that local chickens could be of benefit to us,”
Asha Ramadhani who also received the chickens said that before undergoing the training they never knew about poultry diseases and control measures.
“This e project of chicken I got, will help me on paying the school fees of my children as well as building a better houses which will make my family live in a better life than what we are living now,” she
Another villager from Kiromo village in Bagamoyo, Salumu Ali Chambo called on people in rural areas to get involved in the project, which is very easy to run and very productive and can make people step from the poverty trap.