Dairy cattle for poverty alleviation in Southern Tanzania

Dairy cattle for poverty alleviation in Southern Tanzania,Wolfgang Bayer,Lucas Basilio Kapunda

Dairy cattle for poverty alleviation in Southern Tanzania  
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In the past half-century, various ways of increasing dairy production have been tried in Tanzania, the "Heifer in Trust" (HIT) scheme being the most successful. A group of farmers receives a small number of exotic dairy heifers (mostly Holstein-Friesian crosses) and distributes the animals to individual households belonging to the group. Farmers are obliged to keep the cows indoors, are advised to compost manure, and have to repay two heifers per heifer received: one to the farmer group to be passed on to another group member and one to the project to cover expenses. A recent study in the southern highlands of Tanzania examined the effectiveness of this approach in alleviating poverty. In the highlands, high-grade dairy animals can produce 5000 l of milk/lactation if they receive adequate amounts of concentrated feed. At lower elevations with higher disease pressure, lower-grade animals fare better. Income from milk sales helped some smallholder families acquire additional land, improve their houses (and cattle sheds), finance small-scale businesses, send their children to secondary school, and expand the dairy business. Manure helped double the maize yield and improve yields of cash crops. Keeping improved dairy cattle stimulated farmers to dig shallow wells. Partnership between spouses has reportedly improved through the loan agreement. Families that barely managed to survive six years ago are now considered wealthy.
Published in 2006.
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