The Sunday News
Charleen Ndlovu, Farming Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S raw milk production rose by 10,7 percent last year compared to 2017 buoyed by various initiatives to increase the country’s dairy herd by a number of players in the industry.
According to statistics obtained from the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) the total milk production in 2018 was 75 million litres up from 67 million litres the previous year.
ZADF chairman Mr Kudzai Chirima said the country’s milk volumes have over the past few years been on the increase owing to various initiatives by players in the industry in their bid to achieve a target of producing 200 million litres of milk in 2022.
“We are happy with our performance in 2018. We are still in the process of compiling our annual report. However, we managed to achieve our set target for 2018, which is to produce 75 million litres. The increase can be attributed to the efforts being made by all players in the industry in striving to achieve our target of doubling milk production by year 2022,” he said.
Mr Chirima however, sounded pessimistic about the prospects of attaining a further increase in production due to the effects of drought and a myriad of economic challenges bedevilling the country.
“This year we are likely to record low milk production because we started January with a drought, which affects our dairy cows’ production.
There is also going to be limited supply of stock feed because we cannot grow maize or soya (beans) due to insufficient rains with most farmers not irrigating. Even the prices for the veterinary drugs have gone up.
“We also have fuel problems. Milk is perishable and at the farm when you don’t have electricity you need diesel to power the cold rooms.
There is no proper arrangement for dairy farmers to get diesel. There is a need for some positive action to be taken because we are in a tight situation, possibly Government intervention is needed,” he said.
However, the Government is targeting milk production to rise to between 97 million, to 100 million litres per annum by 2019. Mr Chirima said there is a need for the Government to focus much on the Dairy Revitalisation Programme to expedite curbing of importation of dairy products.
“We are also cognitive of the Government’s needs, we are aware that last year the country used $46 million in foreign currency to import dairy products from South Africa. So we are saying the Government can avoid spending this kind of money if we are supported because we have a national herd. What we only need to do is to make sure that we are mechanised. We need to be manufacturing our dairy products locally instead of importing them,” he said.
The Dairy Revitalisation Programme is spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT), an organisation comprising dairy farmers, milk processors and the Government agricultural departments. The organisation realises its funds through levies paid by players in the dairy industry as well as a specific levy obtained from companies importing Ultra-High-Temperature milk.
The dairy resuscitation fund monies will not only be used to import heifers but also sexed semen to improve breeds and reproduction.