The Kitulo Livestock Multiplication Unit in Njombe Region has said that plans are underway to ensure all the 5000 ha of land it owns have green pastures sufficient for the number of cattle to be brought soon by the government.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Kitulo Livestock Multiplication Unit farm manager Gerald Mashurano said the government has promised to bring more cattle to the farm, so their job now is to guarantee enough feed for them.
President Kikwete when launching Njombe Region said that the government would soon bring cattle from Netherlands to boost livestock farming in the country. “This is what has driven us to plan methods to grow greener pastures to feed the cattle,” he said.
The farm has the ability to take in about 5,000 cattle, but currently it has 765 cows. Of these the breeding cows are 248, breeding heifers 69, weaner females 148, weaner bulls 192, breeding bulls 15, female calves 27, male calves 18 and steers 48.
He noted that the government has supported Kitulo Livestock Multiplication Unit to meet its goal by funding the artificial insemination (AI) project on the farm through donation from Eastern Africa Agricultural Productivity Project (EAAPP), whose aim is to enable it to maintain and produce animals of higher quality for sale to farmers.
“The government wants to invest more here, as part of its efforts to address the problems in the region by producing higher breed cattle, providing new machinery, developing pasture and infrastructure. These improvements will enable the farm to produce at its maximum capacity therefore provide improved services,” he said.
However, he noted that demand for heifers is higher than what is available.
“We receive up to 600 orders of heifers a year but we can only offer between 70 and 100. This is due to lack of funds to run the farm at its maximum capacity and we are happy the government is addressing this,” he said.
On production he said: “We produce about 150 heifers a year, milk production per day is between 1,000 and 1,500 litres, making a total of 450,000 litres a year.”
Meanwhile, the Livestock expert has advised small scale dairy farmers to adopt Artificial Insemination (AI) technology to improve indigenous cattle breeds.
He pointed out that the improved cattle breeds would produce more than the original ones in terms of milk and meat enabling farmers to earn more profit.
He said that animals resulting from AI using indigenous breeds will easily adapt to environment and diseases of a particular area.
Moreover, the AI technology is not expensive compared to imported breeds, he said, adding that AI only requires technical expertise, special equipment for storage of semen and liquid nitrogen and a farmer has to pay a mere 20,000/- as cost for single insemination.
“This is a government farm and we are here to help small scale farmers. We sell to them heifers and bulls (Friesian) that produce a lot of milk at a reasonable price of 850,000/- For heifers, market price ranges between 1.5m/- and 2m/-. These animals help the farmers to reduce poverty by giving high returns,” he said.
Farming at Kitulo plateau started in 1963 under NACO (National Agricultural Company) and the main activities were cultivation of pyrethrum, wheat, raising beef cattle and wool sheep. Dairy cattle were introduced in 1975 with the aim to produce milk commercially, he said. Friesian breed of cattle were imported from the US and New Zealand, and the project was under the Tanzania Dairy Farming Company (DAFCO).
In July 2003, the 5 ha farm was taken over by the Ministry of Water and Livestock Development, after DAFCO had collapsed.