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VELVET BEANS BOOTS MILK PRODUCTION

By HLUPEKILE NDHLOVU
SMALL-SCALE dairy farmers in Kitwe who have adopted the use of legumes like velvet beans and cow peas to supplement the feeding of animals have seen a sharp rise in milk production.
Kwansha Milk Collection Centre Chairperson, Benazyo Banda said the Milk Collection Centre has recorded an increase in the litres of milk among farmers who have adopted the use of velvet beans to supplement their feeding.
Mr Banda explained that the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock under the Enhanced Smallholder Livestock Investment Programme (E-SLIP) gave small-scale dairy farmers different seeds like velvet beans, sun hemp and cow peas to grow forage.
He said most farmers who planted the Velvet beans seeds and harvested have now started seeing the benefits of using legumes especially velvet beans as livestock feed.
Mr Banda said on his farm that the use of velvet beans has reduced the production costs and increased the production of milk from nine to 13 litres per animal.
And another member of the MCC who benefited from E-SLIP, Simon Mulenga, explained that the use of velvet beans on dairy animals has increased the production of milk from 15 to 25litres of milk on his farm.
Mr Mulenga said the cost of feed for animals has become expensive but the use of velvet beans has really helped to reduce the cost of feed for small-scale farmers.
He added that velvet beans is easy to grow as you can intercrop with maize, it is also cheaper as compared to soya beans which is also consumed by humans.
Kitwe District Fisheries and Livestock Coordinator, Chindo Simwinga, said the district is encouraging small- scale farmers to grow pastures and forage for their animals especially those with dairy and beef animals, goats and chickens
Dr Simwinga explained that the district under E-SLIP received 200kilogrammes and 201kilogrammes of cow peas which was given to small-scale farmers.
He said through E-SLIP, they want to encourage farmers to have access to high quality proteins and the programme has been successful in the district as evident on the increase of milk production under the Kwachama Milk Collection Centre.
The initial target was about 200 farmers for the year 2020/2021 farming season and 157 farmers participated and 130 farmers adopted the innovation.
Dr Simwinga added that this year the district is targeting 200 farmers to participate in the E-slip program and start using velvet beans as it is a cheaper source of protein and it is easy to grow as well. -NAIS

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