By Wallace Mawire

The AFC commercial bank in Zimbabwe has supported the establishment of  Mafuro Safari large scale dairy farm in Marondera district in the Mashonaland East province  of Zimbabwe expected to boost milk production in the country.

Government of Zimbabwe officials from the ministry of Lands,Agriculture,Water,Fisheries and Rural Resettlement including officials from the AFC commercial bank and other delegates  were on Friday, 20 May 2022 officially  invited to a field day at Mafuro Safari Farm at least 72km east of  Harare to be appraised on developments at the enterprise following the bank’s support.

Government of Zimbabwe  in 2020 approved the restructuring of Agribank into a holding company with four subsidiaries. The AFC Commercial Bank (Agribank), AFC Land and Development Bank of Zimbabwe, AFC Leasing Company of Zimbabwe and AFC Insurance Company. The President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa launched AFC Holdings on April 30, 2021. The next stage has been the rolling out of  products and services under each of the subsidiaries.

AFC said in a statement that the relationship between Mafuro Farming and AFc which started when Mafuro was established was nurtured and has grown into producing the massive dairy enterprise which has now become the point of refernce for precision farming in the dairy industry in the country.

According to Francis Macheka, AFC Holdings Group CEO said that upon its establishment in 2018,Mafuro farming approached the then Agribank with a proposal for their dairy project.

The enterprise had secured a lease to operate at Grasslands in Marondera for about 200 hectares of the 1 700 hectares of Grasslands Research Institute for the dairy project.

A composite facility of USD$1 million was put together to purchase heifers for milk production, as well as working capital for the running of the dairy farm.

Macheka said that Mafuro farm managed to build a dairy  herd from start to about 546 animals of which 75 were being milked.

He added that in 2019, with more assistance from AFC, the farming enterprise moved to phase two of their project at a bigger farm located in Ruzawi,Marondera called Safari farm where the field visit has been held.

The company has managed to build a milking herd of 554 cows. The total herd for the two farms grew to 1100 cows.The combined production at the two farms was 12 400 litres of milk per day translating to 372 000 litres a month.

Macheka added that in 2022, Mafuro signed up a farm in Kwekwe to launh phase three of the dairy project. The farm known as East Range Ranch is located next to Sebakwe game park and draws water from Sebakwe dam. The farm is 4180 hectares in extent with 560hectares of arable land under irrigation.

AFC bank said that it is already working on a funding structure to cover the purchase of heifers, infrastructure and working capital.

AFC also says that the partnership between the bank and the Mafuro farming enterprise has seen the project building a total herd of 1099 milking animals which are producing an average of 19,3 litres pwer cow per herd.

The field visit was facilitated by Mafuro Farm Owner and Director Sean Webster and the entire Mafuro Farming team and the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers  (ZADF).

Peter Haritatos ,Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculure,Water,Climate and Rural Resettlement said at the field visit that the government of Zimbabwe through its  Vision 2030 of a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society, has prioritized agricultural production and its value chains as the main driving force of the economy with more than 70% of the people employed in the agricultural sector.

He said that the agriculture sector continues to be the back-bone of the Zimbabwean economy, contributing between 16 to 20 % of the GDP and 40& to exports.’

‘We plan  to grow by a further 10% this year 2022.We have  a number of plans including the Livestock Growth Plan which seeks to promote the growth and sustainability of livestock farming including the dairy sector,’ Haritatos said.

He added that the dairy  industry has significantly contributed to agricultural transformation which is a top priority for the government of Zimbabwe.

The Deputy Minister said that the livestock sub-sector contributes to household and national food nutrition security, foreign currency earnings and is a source of livelihoods for a great number of Zimbabweans.

Approximately 30,000 people are reported by the ministry to be  employed within the Dairy Value Chain sector  and 13 000 people are further employed indirectly.

‘For this reason, the government is very keen on the dairy sector and has therefore continued to allocate resources and other forms of support to the dairy sector. The participation of all classes of dairy farmers from small scale to large scale supports the attainment of Vision 2030 through facilitating growth of the dairy sector by strengthening the Dairy Revitalization Programme and this is highly commendable,’ Haritatos said.