Our solution

Make traditional cattle farming sustainable and profitable

Mafisa does four things

Animal health services

    Rangeland managemEnt

      Community inclusion

        Market access

          Animal health servicesImproving survival and reproduction 

          Mafisa provides animal health care services at community level, at a network of farmer hubs. Services include weekly anti-tick spraying, de-worming, routine vaccination to all cattle, and supports emergency response in the event of disease outbreak. Mafisa provides farmer training in collaboration with the Zambia Institute for Animal Health and is building programmes to support improvement in herd genetics. 

          Together, these services greatly improve survival and reproduction rates. Mafisa’s health programme is developed and implemented in partnership with Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. 

          The District Veterinary Officers and the community based veterinary assistants provide direct support to the project.

          Rangeland managementRestoring grassland for animal nutrition, resilience & carbon sequestration 

          Mafisa is working with farmers to re-introduce traditional rotational grazing practices and community-led fire management. With training and facilitation, communities are creating and implementing grazing plans. Fire management is incorporated into grazing plans, to protect against harmful over-burning of vegetation and grassland. 

          This will improve animal nutrition, restore fragile rangelands, and improve biodiversity. As a result, carbon will be removed from the atmosphere and sequestered in the roots and soil, and in the above ground grasses.

          Rotational grazing will be supported by new boreholes and the restoration of natural water points, enabling the rotation of cattle across the land. Water points will also support small scale vegetable production and small animal farming, improving nutrition and livelihoods particularly for woman’s groups and female headed households.

          A 240-hectare demonstration site and training centre is being developed at Tahalima, 40 kms east of Sesheke town.

          Community inclusionEnsuring Mafisa reaches women and youth

          Mafisa will ensure women and youth continue to access livelihood opportunities. One of the ways we are already doing this is by enabling woman and youth to grow their own herds through a traditional cattle lending practice whereby Mafisa lends “starter stock” to selected farmers. The cattle receive free, compulsory health services through the period of the loan, and when Mafisa sells the cattle, the farmer keeps any offspring.

          New and restored water points will improve access to drinking water and enable the irrigation of small-scale vegetable growing as well as the opportunity to raise small livestock. Other pilot schemes are being tested in partnership with woman’s groups and the wider communities, exploring a range of options to improve sustainable livelihoods.

          Market access A fair price for farmers

          Currently farmers typically sell their cattle to informal traders who pay very low prices trapping farmers in poverty. Mafisa will build about ten new buying centres over the coming years, enabling farmers to access much better prices for their cattle. These buying centres will be leased to mainstream buyers, bringing fair market prices within reach of farmers in the target area. 

          Our activities

          Mafisa does five things to achieve our mission


          Mafisa provides low-cost animal health services including dipping and vaccination. Mafisa also provides advice and support on preventive health and reproduction management. Services are accompanied by frequent training, both formal and informal.

          Farmers are trained in how to spot the signs of trouble, and on how to respond to sickness and emergencies. Mafisa centres have critical care supplies ready to deal with the most common problems.

          Cattle loans

          Mafisa cattle lending replicates the traditional mafisa system, which is a form of agricultural finance based on contracting out the management of animals. 

          Mafisa allocates cattle to group members through a management contract. During the period of the contract, farmers look after the animals and keep the milk, while Mafisa provides free and compulsory health services. As long as they bring the animals for health services and ensure good management, farmers will keep the animals for four to five years and receive some of the offspring.

          Farmer organisation

          Mafisa organises farmers into groups, which are the focus for local management, provision of equipment and infrastructure, and training. Mafisa stipulates criteria for group membership, ensuring participation of women, youth and the poorest.

          Regenerative grazing

          Africa’s traditional pastoral communities live in the continent’s most fragile, climate-impacted environments, which offer few alternative sustainable livelihood opportunities. Although poor grazing practices also threaten environmental degradation, climate-smart regenerative grazing can drive the restoration of rangelands and improvement of animal health, and avert the risk of desertification. Mafisa works with communities to promote the adoption of improved rangeland management.


          Farmers in remote areas are often unable to access fair market prices, with middlemen dominating the value chain. Mafisa has partnered with Zambeef PLC, the largest player in the Zambian beef market, to ensure that remote farmers sell their animals directly for a fair market price.