Notes to broadcasters
There are over 1.5 million registered farmers in Zambia. Ten thousand of these are dairy farmers, and 96% of dairy farmers are small-scale producers. Many market their milk through Milk Collection Centers (MCCs), of which there are 79 across the country. Women account for 28% of dairy farmers.
Zambia’s annual natural raw milk production is 619 million litres and the average milk consumption per person is 35 litres, compared to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 200 litres. Livestock and dairy farming are more prominent in the Southern, Eastern, and Central Provinces of the country.
Despite the commitment of dairy farmers to operate their farms as successful businesses, the effects of drought and animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and tick-borne diseases have ravaged Southern province, where most dairy farmers are located.
This script will provide information on how farmers in the Southern Province have been affected by climate change and animal diseases. An animal health expert will talk about the effects of climate change on dairy farmers and also how they have been affected by animal diseases and what is being done to reverse the negative trends. The script also highlights solutions that are cushioning the impact of climate change and animal diseases, and the sustainable methods dairy farmers are using to deal with these issues.
To produce a similar program on animal health and adapting to climate change, you may wish to draw inspiration from this script. If you choose to present this radio script as part of your farming program, you can use voices to represent the people interviewed in this case. In this case, please tell your audience at the very beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors and not of the actual participants.
If you want to air programs on animal health and the impacts of climate change on livestock rearing, talk to farmers who rear animals, animal health specialists, and other stakeholders in the livestock value chain.
You may wish to ask them the following questions, among others:
- What are the most important livestock diseases in this area?
- What are the recommended practices, including vaccinations, for managing these diseases? For which of these diseases are vaccines available?
- What are the impacts of climate change on animal rearing, and how can livestock farmers best adapt to these impacts?
Estimated duration with music, intro and extro, is 20 minutes.
To help us answer these questions, we have an animal health expert. Dr. Belindah Chilala, who is a veterinarian and livestock specialist for a project that supports smallholder dairy farmers in the Southern Province of Zambia, and GIZ’s Senior Advisor in a program called Green Innovative Centers for the Agriculture and Food Sector.
As the Green Innovation Centre, we are also training farmers how to correctly dip their animals and use antibiotic drugs correctly, as wrong usage can make animal health problems persist and also result in human health problems. We are also linking farmers to private animal health service providers.
It is now time to get feedback from a few dairy farmers.
Ms. Rita Mweene, in her fifties, is a dairy farmer in Mazabuka district. She is among the small-scale dairy farmers who have experienced the harsh impacts of climate change and animal diseases.
How are you addressing the impacts of climate change and animal diseases?
Hygienic practices like these are very critical to increasing productivity and income for small-scale dairy farmers like us. It means that there is no wastage of milk during and after harvest. All the milk is sold and we do not have any losses, which improves our living standard and household income.
Pure breeds would be very expensive for us to maintain. And they may not survive well and produce the expected volumes of milk due to climate change. Having a good range of crosses between pure breeds and local dairy cattle ensures that our cows are both adapted to climate change and produce a good volume of milk.
We are being taught how to make good silage in affordable ways on the farms, and this also helps increase productivity, even for local breeds when they are well-managed.
For the pit procedure, we add 150 kgs of chopped stover to a metre-deep and metre-wide pit, along with 150 litres of water. We mix every layer of the chopped stover as it is put into the pit and compacted. We close the pit airtight with a plastic sheet and put soil, preferably wet soil, on top of the plastic.
It’s important that, if you’re making silage close to the rainy season, that the top of the pit should be sloped so that water runs off and doesn’t get in to the pit. The silage is ready to use after six weeks with both the pit and the drum procedure.
How are your farming activities succeeding?
We combine these ingredients in specific proportions and we continue to get a good amount of milk. Thus, cows are even conceiving in the dry season. To add to our stock of fodder, we buy some crop residues from surrounding villages. These farmers do not use their crop residues, but to us, they are valuable.
Really, the situation was different before we had this knowledge, as we were finding it difficult to sustain our animals during the dry season. The number of farmers who would supply milk to the collection centres would drastically decrease. The problem was compounded by the lack of water due to rivers and streams drying up because of the low rainfall as a result of climate change. Today, we have gained more knowledge and we know what to do even under those circumstances to help our animals survive.
Please describe your dairy farming for us.
We really never knew that milk could be a profitable business and so I never paid much attention to the health of the animals, apart from dipping them every so often to fight tick-borne diseases.
But the situation these days is different and I am better able to look after my herd in terms of disease control. I have learnt through trainings and we now have routines that help us take better care of animals with various diseases. But what I like most is that in the dry season, we can supplement their food with hay, which we have learnt to keep when there is plenty of grass in the wet season.
Foot and Mouth Disease is the leading disease. We have lost a lot of our animals to it, and this was compounded by climate change as we didn’t have enough rainfall in the 2018/2019 farming season.
I am happy to say that the proceeds really help us to pay school fees for children and buy farming inputs. We used to sell maize so we could buy medicines for treating animals. But these days, the money from milk sales at the co-operative is enough for us to treat the animals as well as earn a sustainable livelihood.
Until next time, it’s bye for now.
Contributed by: Raphael Banda, script writer, translator, radio and TV producer, Lusaka, Zambia.
Reviewed by: Dr. Belindah Chilala, Senior Advisor, Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector, Zambia