Roberta Katunga, Senior Business Reporter
A number of intervention initiatives by the Government and the private sector have culminated in the continuous improvement and growth of the dairy industry as the country forges ahead to curb imports, an official said.
According to the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services’ Dairy Services Unit, the country’s milk production is reported to have experienced an increase of 12 percent from January to November 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, with at least 65 million litres being recorded. It is also reported that capacity utilisation by milk processors also surged by 10 percent.
“The Government and industry initiatives have resulted in increased consumption of local dairy products and this has translated into increased capacity utilisation by processors to approximately 55 percent compared to 45 percent in 2015,” said Mr Addmore Waniwa, the principal dairy officer in the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services’ Dairy Services Unit.
One such Government intervention for the dairy industry in 2016 was the Industry Dairy Revitalisation Project which raised funds for developing the industry through voluntary levying of imports.
Mr Waniwa said the country was on the brink of being self-sufficient in most dairy products except for cheese, butter and powdered milk.
“The dairy herd size continues to grow through breeding and imports of dairy animals with the current herd size being
33 000. Projection for 2016 is between 64 to 65 million litres which is in line with industry targets of 12 percent annual growth in milk production,” he said.
Mr Waniwa, however, said production costs were still high especially the cost of stock feed although the Government has since put a policy framework to encourage more cropping through increased contract farming and increased local milling of strategic crops such as soya beans, maize and wheat.
The dairy industry has set a target of reducing costs of producer milk by between five to eight percent per year through practical training programmes for farmers.
The producer price is at $0,53 per litre and it is expected to be reduced to $0,46 per litre by 2019.
“Co-ordination of new investors to fit into existing development plans is important. The existing processing capacity is underutilised so there is no need for investors in processing but new investors are to be directed to other areas like development of the production base. Relevant Government policy that will enable farmers to access critical funds is needed for capital expenditure and to finance dairy farmers’ seasonal cropping requirements is also needed,” he said.
Mr Waniwa further said the sector was targeting to promote investment into alternative energy sources such as biogas and solar as well as continued encouragement of consumption of locally produced raw milk so as to boost volumes and enhance economies of scale.