Originally published on November 12, 2014.
Dairy cows significantly increase the livelihood security of small-holder farmers in Malawi. Farmers have seen firsthand the posi-tive impacts dairy farming have had on others within the community, and they know that shortly after receiving animals the income generated enables households to meet their basic needs with disposable income remaining.
Modester Kakowa, a female dairy farmer from Mbwindi Village in Lilongwe, had a vision to become a successful dairy farmer. She joined Likuni Milk Bulking Group in 2001 with the aim of us-ing the business to support her 5 member family.
In 2009, Land O'Lakes placed 175 in-calf heifers with clients in 14 Milk Bulking Groups. Within a year, the cows were producing an average of 12 liters of milk per day, generating over $28,000 USD per month for smallholder farmers.
“I observed that dairy farming was the only means to get out of poverty and become really wealthy. Other farming ventures are seasonal,” Modester said as she explained her motivation for joining the MBG.
In July, 2009, she received a pregnant cow under the MDDA pass-on scheme, which gave birth to a female calf on September 28th, 2009. Since then, the cow has produced at least 12 liters of milk everyday, which translates to over US$160 per month. From her milk proceeds she managed to save enough money to buy a cross breed heifer from a Government owned farm.
Modester’s first cow was inseminated soon after it calved. Be-cause of her proper management and a little luck, the cow gave birth one week after her first calf was passed-on to another fami-ly. Thus, within 14 months Modester Kakowa moved from having no cow to being the proud owner of 3 dairy animals, and she re-paid her loan by passing on a calf to another farmer.
Modester remains ambitious and she plans to keep reinvesting into dairy farming for real wealth. For her, the one cow that she received was a stepping stone to bigger and better things. “I don’t need any more external assistance,” she proudly proclaims.