Tapiwanashe Mangwiro Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe is projected to record 19 percent growth in milk production to 95 million litres this year after registering strong output in the first two months.
This comes as the Government has been supporting the dairy sector through national budgets following the introduction of a 5 percent duty on dairy imports to finance the dairy recovery programme.
Under the livestock and recovery growth plan, milk production is expected to rise from current annual production of 79,9 million litres to 150 million litres while the dairy herd is anticipated to grow from 39 980 to 60 000 by 2025.
Zimbabwe’s annual demand for milk stands at 120 million litres, which the Southern African country has been failing to reach for over a decade now.
Over the last few years growth of both dairy herd and milk production in the large scale commercial and smallholder sectors has been slow owing to loss of valuable genetic material. In 2021, players in the dairy sector produced 79,6 million litres in 2021, representing a four percent increase from 76.69 million litres produced in 2020. This is against annual demand of about 120 million litres.
Since the country cannot produce enough milk, the excess demand is met through powdered imports mainly from neighbouring South Africa under a duty-free quota system to approved importers.
A Dairy Services Unit officer in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Settlement, Addmore Waniwa, said that in the first quarter of 2021 Zimbabwe experienced excessive rains, which resulted in reduced raw milk production due to stressful conditions for the animals.
“The rains affected feed intake by the cows and combined with the stress we experienced a decline in milk production up until May when we started having favourable conditions combined with improved feed and water supplies,” he said.
However, Zimbabwe’s raw milk production increased by 19 percent in the first two months of this year to 14,12 million litres from 11,89 million litres recorded in the same period last year, official data shows.
Latest figures from the Ministry of Agriculture dairy services department show that milk intake by processors rose 18 percent to 12,66 million litres from 10,75 million litres in the comparative period.
Retailed milk by producers increased by 28 percent to 1.45 million litres from 1,13 million litres in the same period last year.
In February, raw milk production was 24,13 percent higher to 6,73 million litres compared to 5,42 million litres recorded in the same month last year. But, February output at 6.73 million litres, represents a 9 percent decline from January output of 6,38 million litres. About US$75 million is required to fully revitalise the sector