THE Lesotho National Dairy Board (LNDB) recently held a workshop to equip 37 milk producing farmers from Maseru with skills to take care of their livestock to help them increase their productivity.
The five-day workshop was held at the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) Sebaboleng premises from the 21st of this month.
Farmers were taught about three types of milk cows namely Friesland, Brown Swiss and Jersey. The farmers were taught that although the Friesland produces the largest quantity of milk, it is expensive to maintain because it consumes more food (more than twice that of other breeds) and is prone to illnesses so it was not advisable for farmers who could not afford to maintain its livelihood.
They were also taught that while the Brown Swiss and the Jersey are producers of lower quantities of milk, they are easy to maintain as they can withstand drought and may be taken out to the fields to feed.
The trainers taught the farmers that cows must be well fed and must get adequate drinking water for them to produce more milk. The farmers were also urged not to milk their cows within seven days of injecting them with antibiotics as the milk could be harmful when consumed by humans.
The training was a pilot to equip the farmers with skills among them, how to take care of their cows, the type of cows which produce more milk, the best feeds for the livestock and the manner in which to maintain the cattle’s good health.
Currently the Lesotho Dairy Products, a local milk processing plant at Ha Leqele, needs 80 000 litres of milk daily but according to LNDB chief executive officer, Abiel Pebane, local farmers were only able to supply the dairy company with 15 000 litres daily.
Mr Pebane said that the drive was intended to bridge the existing gap which forces the local dairy source more milk from South Africa.
“A few years back, the government spent around M14 million to upgrade the plant at the Lesotho Dairy Products to accommodate the 80 000 litres it can now but unfortunately local farmers only supply with 15 000 litres which is less than 40 percent of the required quantity,” Mr Pebane said.
“Through this workshop, we are hoping farmers will be able to produce more milk to bridge the existing gap so that the local dairy can stop sourcing more milk from South Africa.
“The greatest challenge facing local farmers has been that of quality control. However, since for the past five days you were taught how to take care of your cows for them to produce even more milk, we believe that will no longer be an issue.
“There are many milk products in the market that we are yet to tap into and that requires farmers to produce more milk. You need to work together to grow rapidly. On our side, we will continue working with BEDCO to develop this industry.”
Mr Pebane also said that their plan is to host similar workshops in the nine other districts with Thaba Tseka next in line scheduled for 11 February this year.
Speaking on behalf of the Maseru farmers, chairperson of Letlama Dairy Farmers, Motjope Thinyane, said he was already yielding results and would love to see more similar training seminars.
“Since I started attending this workshop on Monday and tried the skills I learned on my cows at home, yesterday I noted that my cows were starting to produce more milk, about six litres more each. This means that with time the production will increase further.
“I would like to thank the dairy board for answering our calls. Through these skills, we will be able to produce more milk and that way, the banks will be able to hear our pleas when we ask for funding.
“We need more workshops of this nature to develop this industry to one that may create more jobs. Next, we need to be taught how to prepare our financial books so that we can take care of our businesses,” Mr Thinyane said.