Amalima Improves Livestock Productivity in Matabeleland North and South Zimbabwe
Phillip Sithole, his wife and four children live in Matabeleland South in Zimbabwe, an area characterized by low rainfall available for planting crops. Because of the area’s arid conditions, the land is best suited for raising livestock. Sithole cares for cattle, goats, chickens and Guinea fowl on his small farm and sells at least one of his cattle every year, through his membership at the Magaya Livestock Producers Association, to support his family. But in order to generate a profit, he needs new offspring to replace the cattle he sells.
Unfortunately, low calving rates and in-breeding hinder smallholder farmers like Sithole in their efforts to increase their livestock. To address these constraints, Amalima, a USAID-funded Food for Peace program, initiated a series of trainings on Artificial Insemination (AI). AI affords farmers an opportunity to introduce new genetic material of adaptable and desirable cattle breeds that are better suited for harsher physical environments. Amalima staff, in collaboration with the Department of Livestock Production and Development, Department of Vet Services, Agritex and local paravets, facilitated the trainings to discuss the benefits of AI, as well as its process, timing and post-pregnancy diagnosis.
When Sithole heard about the training opportunity, he gathered funds to pay for seven cows to be inseminated at the cost of $30 USD each. “I am excited for an increase in my animals’ impregnation rate and am looking forward to a better income for my family,” Sithole expressed. Like most farmers who attended the training, the average pregnancy rate using traditional methods is between 20-30%. The insemination, introduced by Amalima, crossed his cows with a more resilient breed to improve the quality of his heard. After insemination, Amalima staff came back to inspect Sithole’s cows and found that 100% of the inseminated animals were pregnant.
To date, Amalima has trained 304 farmers (211 male and 93 female) on AI throughout Amalima’s four program areas. Because of these trainings, there is now a 68% success rate of pregnant cows as a result of AI and farmers are expecting their first generation of crosses in early March 2015. With this new technology and improvement in livestock production, families like the Sithole’s are able to plan better for their future needs. Additionally, these farmers are able to predict how many of their animals will become pregnant as a result of a much higher pregnancy rate than using traditional breeding methods.
Amalima applies a set of innovative approaches by building on existing communal initiatives and solidarity to address food and nutrition insecurity and strengthen resilience to shocks. It is introducing new farming technologies like AI though its livestock component in addition to teaching beneficiaries to become better farmers in difficult physical environments. CNFA leads a consortium of partners including Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), Africare, Dabane Water Works, International Medical Corps (IMC), and the Manoff Group to increase productivity, improve drought resilience and adaptation, and enhance nutrition care practices in Matabeleland North and South, Zimbabwe.