Originally published on July 30, 2018.
The largest dairy farm in Mozambique is pushing for growth
As the sun sets over Chimoio, Manica province, Mozambique, over 500 cows mosey up the hillside. Zito António is leading them back to pasture after a successful milking session. With an automated milking parlor and 10 employees managing the machines and animals, this operation just successfully collected about 1500 liters of quality milk. From here, the milk is taken for processing into butter, yogurt and pasteurized milk before the products are taken across the country. This is Clifton Meadows-Mozambique (CMM). This is Mozambique’s largest commercial dairy farm.
When two worlds collide
For most of their lives, Zito and Ross Kietzmann, Clifton Meadows owner, lived in very different worlds. While Ross was running his 600-hectare South African dairy operation, it’s likely that Zito was studying or playing on his family’s one-hectare farm in Sofala province, Mozambique. In 2014, Ross and Zito’s paths got a bit closer when Ross arrived at a plot of rolling hills outside of Chimoio city, Manica province, Mozambique – Zito was living in Chimio, just on the other side of the hills.
With a dairy processer nearby, access to river water, a tropical climate and fertile soil, Ross knew this that this spot would be perfect for his next adventure – it was the perfect spot for Clifton Meadows. Ross was looking for on-farm workers with integrity, intelligence and energy. People like Zito.
When Ross first established Clifton Meadows, the Mozambique dairy industry was just starting to take shape. Under the previous Mozambique Dairy Development Program (MDDP), with funding from a USDA Food for Progress initiative, Land O’Lakes International Development (Land O’Lakes) was supporting dairy farmers and processors like Clifton Meadows to get operations up-and-running. The project provided Ross with business development services, dairy cows and cost share for irrigation equipment and a milking parlor. Employees like Zito also received training on food quality and animal care.
With over 550 cows and 28 employees, Clifton is in good shape when it comes to operations. “Four years ago, the industry was small. Now we need to strengthen the market, and improve consumer awareness about dairy,” says Ross.
And, today, the USDA-funded MERCADO project is continuing to help Ross and Zito grow the business. Under MERCADO, Land O´Lakes is assisting CMM to scale-up production and develop a breeding station. Targets include increasing milk production from 2,000 to 10,000 liters a day and, by the end of the project, to supply up to 100 heifers and bulls to the local market, contingent on local demand.
Neither Ross nor Zito could have imagined that this is where life would take them. They are looking forward to the future – to seeing the operation continue to grow and to bring dairy products to the their consumers.
As for the dairy industry’s future in Mozambique? Ross and Zito will be the first to tell you that a lot can happen when worlds come together.