Govt supportive policies spawn growth of dairy herd

Source: Govt supportive policies spawn growth of dairy herd | The Herald (Top Stories)

Dr John Basera

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

ZIMBABWE is moving towards milk self-sufficiency as the dairy herd has reached 39 000 with 91, 4 million litres of raw milk produced in 2022 up from 79, 6 produced in 2021.

This was revealed by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera recently.

Dr Basera said imports of milk powder had since declined by 17 percent over this period, dropping from 8, 9 to 7, 4 million kilogrammes.

In the 2022 budget Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said: “In order to augment the supply of raw milk, mindful of the need to revitalise the dairy industry, I propose to extend duty suspension on minimum quantities of milk powder for the year 2022.

As a quid pro quo, dairy processors are expected to increase support to out-grower schemes with a view to build the stock of dairy herd, in order to increase raw milk production. Furthermore, dairy processors are expected to increase uptake of raw milk from smallholder farmers.”

To revitalise the dairy sector, Prof Ncube introduced a five percent levy on the value of imported dairy products.

The funds would be ring-fenced for re-capitalising the Dairy Revitalisation Fund, targeted at growth and development of the dairy sector by increasing the national dairy herd, enhancing competitiveness of the dairy sector, support modernisation and standardisation of local milk production, added Prof Ncube.

Prof Ncube said the funds would be disbursed from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to smallholder farmers at a concessionary interest rate, in order to ensure sustainability of the fund, as well as optimise growth of the sector.

Prof Ncube added that to guarantee growth of the sector, a minimum of 80 percent of the funds should be utilised towards procurement of the dairy herd.

In the 2023 budget Prof Ncube said: “In line with the objectives of NDS1, there was need to gradually substitute imports through increased production, coupled with simultaneous increase in the uptake of raw milk by processing companies from the current level of 70 million litres to 130 million per annum by 2025.”

He, however, noted that there was a reduction in the uptake of locally produced raw milk as well as limited support to local dairy farmers in preference to imported milk powder.

In that view the Government proposed to gradually reduce on a sliding scale ring-fenced milk powder imports starting at 75 percent in 2023 to 50 percent in 2024 and then to 25 percent in 2025.

The same formula will be used for cheese imports. Livestock and Meat Advisory Council administrator Dr Reneth Mano applauded the move by the Government to develop the local dairy herd. “The Government’s move to introduce the sliding scale reduction in milk product imports will go a long way in capacitating local producers, as well as not providing a ready market for dumping of cheap milk products.

“We however call for the payment of higher to local producers for their raw milk as the current US0, 38 per litre will not assist in the herd rebuilding exercise,” said Dr Mano.

Dr Mano believes a price of US$0, 65 per litre will enable local producers to grow their dairy herds.

“If local milk producers are paid low prices the local market crumbles, as they can’t capitalise their dairy farms.

“It doesn’t help for the country to continue importing cheap raw milk products from outside yet suffocating local productive farmers,” added Dr Mano.

He believes the fund collected from the statutory levy on all dairy products imports can be used for breeder stock multiplication with breeder farmers identified in suitable areas within the country.

“We have sent a proposal to Agriculture and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) for five to seven major breeders of cows to be identified who will become anchor breeders to produce pure or cross breeds.

“The genetic make of the cows through artificial insemination (AI) will be upgraded over time. This will ensure that heifers are available locally at competitive prices, disclosed Dr Mano.

According to Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future (TranZDVC), the average milk producer price is estimated at US$0, 38 per standard litre as at June 2021, which is only 24 percent of the final consumer price of US$1, 60 per litre. Such as scenario seems to imply that vertically integrated processors get a larger share of the profit margins compared to milk producers. Consequently, the performance and sustainability of the Zimbabwean dairy value chain (DVC) is compromised.

TranZDVC project coordinator Dr Edison Chifamba said the country would be milk self-sufficient by 2025 adding that this year a 20 percent growth was possible.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!