ZIMBABWE – ProDairy, a leader in the fast moving consumer good (FMCG) industry in Zimbabwe, has made a US$1.6 million investment in a grass feeding program for cows to cut on the cost of milk production.

According to the company, it will also establish a new division in partnership with a private equity firm, SubSahara Capital and its managing partner Sean Webstar- an expert in pasture-based farming- alongside the investment.

The division, deemed as Mafuro Farming will be responsible for developing specialised pastures to be used for dairy cattle feeding.

It will also work in collaboration with Grasslands Research Institute, providing expertise in researching, developing and conserving animal breeds, pastures and forages adaptable to Zimbabwe’s five agro-ecological zones.

“Animal feed is expensive, because of the big demand on grain, so under the partnership we will work on ensuring the heifers eat more grass to reduce the cost of feed,” said Calum Philip, ProDairy managing director.

“One kilogramme of feed produces one litre of milk but if pasture is perfected, the animal can produce one litre of milk after eating 300g of grass.”

The company added that the new project will also focus on irrigated pastures, grow special types of grass which will help reduce the cost of milk production by almost two thirds.

As part of the program, ProDairy will import 400 heifers from South Africa for US$1, 700 each in the first phase, expected to produce 240, 000 litres of milk in a month.

The project seeks to address milk shortages experienced by boosting availability of raw milk.

With higher milk production, the company said that for each heifer, it will be able to save about US$217 in powder imports.

Upon successful implementation of the program, ProDairy will import 400 more heifers in the second phase of the plan.