The Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers
Small Scale Farmer of the Year 2015
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Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers hosts festive
Small Scale Farmer of the Year Awards Event in Tsonzo

Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers hosts festive Small Scale Farmer of the Year Awards Event in Tsonzo
A crowd of over 700 people comprising enthusiastic dairy farmers from all sectors from small scale rural to large scale commercial, their families, school children, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) officials and a number high level dignitaries from both Zimbabwe and Mozambique, turned out in force for the 2015 ZADF Small Scale Farmer of the Year Awards Ceremony.

The much anticipated event on 1 October was held on the winner’s own farm in Tsonzo, Mutasa District, Manicaland, a model of excellent dairy farming practices. Before the Awards Ceremony commenced, the VIPs and hundreds of dairy farmers and others attending the event, went on a very informative tour of the farm to view its operations and learn from the good practices there demonstrated. A number of companies also displayed what they could offer dairy farmers on the periphery of the event and attracted lots of interest.

It was a festive occasion indeed, and the bright sunny day reflected the mood of all those gathered. Lunch was served to everyone after the speeches were over and the awards distributed, and the happy crowds dispersed in the late afternoon.

A number of high profile VIPs were present and delivered speeches at the event, representing Government, relevant NGOs and ZADF itself.  Included amongst dignitaries was the visiting Governor of Manica Province in Mozambique, Mr Alberto Ricardo Mondlane, and his entourage and quick-witted, skilled translator, who interpreted the entire proceedings into Portuguese, throughout.

Top local dignitaries who attended and spoke at the event included the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs the Honourable Mandy Chimene, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture - Livestock the Honourable Paddy Zhanda, the Provincial Administrator of Manicaland, Mr Fungayi Mbetsa and the Provincial Livestock Specialist Mr Zvoutete. Chairman of the ZADF Mr Emmanuel Zimbandu and Chief Executive Office Mrs Linda Nielsen also spoke at the event, and the NGOs SNV and We Effect were well represented. Chief Mutasa also honoured the event with his presence, accompanied by family members.

SNV assisted with sponsorship for the event, including providing the funding for the attractive lime green shirts given to the attending dairy farmers which were immediately donned and created a colourful effect throughout the crowd. In their speeches, the Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister encouraged all dairy farmers to continue the good work and constantly strive for growth and increased production. Both emphasised the vital importance of milk production in feeding the nation, and of the dairy herd itself, which need to be both sustained and increased.

The presentation of the awards was an exciting and highly enjoyable segment of the day’s proceedings and the very proud ZADF Small Scale Farmer of the Year, Jane Makunike, was overjoyed, coming forward to collect her award to huge applause, vibrant music and dancing, and bringing with her, her husband Naboth and other family members. Her prizes were multiple, and included her own choice of bull, donated by commercial dairy farmer Gareth Barry, as well as a pregnant heifer, artificially inseminated using sexed semen, donated by commercial farmers from Manicaland and supplied by John Stanger and a milking machine donated by the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust, as well as a host of other prizes donated by various generous companies. The pregnant heifer was brought to the field just outside the marquee so that she, the VIPs and the crowd, could view and admire the animal, a magnificent beast in perfect condition.

Notable at the 2015 Awards was the fact that no less than six out of the ten award winners were women. All were thrilled to be named as award winners and all received generous prizes donated by companies and NGOs, relevant to dairy farming and sure to assist them well, in their continuing efforts. There was much cheering, dancing clapping and jubilation, ending the ceremony on a very high note.

The event was a success on so many levels - providing encouragement for dairy farmers across all sectors, throwing a spotlight on those small scale farmers found to be demonstrating best practices, and affording the opportunity for field day observations and learning in the process, via the winner’s own farm, which impressed everyone. It also highlighted the vital importance of dairy farming to the nation and the necessity both to sustain and to grow the national dairy herd and to boost productivity back to self-sufficiency levels for the country.