By Wellington Zimbowa
Game changer milk producer, Mafuro Farming is basking in its pasture-based dairy farming model and is geared to enter its next growth phase mid this year.
Only started in 2018 through financial support from government-controlled Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC) formerly Agribank, the farm only milked 75 cows at the leased Marondera-based Grasslands Research Institution.
Addressing delegates, AFC Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Francis Macheka said the relationship between the AFC Bank and Mafuro started at the budding stage of the enterprise and has grown from strength to strength over the years.
“At AFC Holdings, we believe in “growing together”, and the relationship between Mafuro Farming and AFC Holdings attests to that. You may recall that AFC Holdings was established through the unbundling of Agribank, to drive the transformation of agriculture development in Zimbabwe. AFC is a One-Stop-Shop, Development Finance Group for agricultural finance, commercial banking, insurance, and leasing, designed to support agriculture development through the entire value chain. These services are being offered through the AFC Holdings Group of Companies comprising the following subsidiaries: AFC Land and Development Bank of Zimbabwe; AFC Commercial Bank (formerly Agribank); AFC Leasing Company; and AFC Insurance Company.
“To other dairy farmers, AFC Holdings is not just there for Mafuro Farming and a few others we have in our books. We are here to serve you all. AFC Holdings envisages establishing similar relationships with other dairy farmers, by offering a total package of financial services,” Mr Macheka said..
But today the Sean Webster-owned dairy enterprise boasts of over 1000 dairy herds producing about 20 liters per cow daily and is set to boost the capacity in its next developed phase set for Kwekwe by July this year.
“We are even more excited that the relationship between Mafuro Farming and AFC which was started when Mafuro was established, was nurtured and has grown into producing this massive enterprise, that is now a reference for precision farming in the dairy industry in Zimbabwe.
“Upon its establishment in 2018, Mafuro approached the then Agribank with a proposal for their dairy project,” reads an AFC press statement.
Initially, the enterprise had secured a 200 ha of the total 1700 ha lease at the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry’s run Grasslands Research Institute (GRI) in Mashonaland East’s Marondera town.
Went on AFC “We put together a composite facility of USD$1 million to purchase heifers for milk production, as well as working capital for the running of the dairy farm.
“Mafuro managed to build a dairy herd from start to about 546 animals of which 75 were being milked.”
Farm proprietor Webster added to the AFC statement saying in spite of his expertise and passion the dream couldn’t have come true without the needed financial and technical support.
Speaking at the Large Scale Dairy Farmer Field Day commemorations which he hosted at his farm, Mr. Webster stressed that Zimbabwe should utilise its vast conducive climatic conditions to capitalize on milk production.
He however said there are numerous dairy production methods but said he was using a model that he had studied and believed in.
“There are many ways to do dairy farming. I am just showcasing to you one way I thought is profitable in Zimbabwe. Pasture-based farming is profitable as it is low cost because of the good soil and the weather,” he said.
He added that the upcoming phase 3 Kwekwe project is set to boost production starting this July with a 1000 herd of dairy cattle and reaching 2000 by 2024.
Webster, a Zimbabwean by birth, cut his teeth in extensive milk production during his stint in New Zealand.
Agric deputy minister Peter Haritatos was the Guest of Honour. The Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Minister, the local Parliamentarian, and Chief Svosve also attended the event.