Source: Milk production increases to 91 million litres | The Herald (Local News)
Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter
Milk production increased last year by 14,3 percent from 79.6 million litres in 2021 to over 91 million litres as Government continues to provide assistance and other support but Zimbabwe still needs to import to meet the initial target of 150 million litres.
Milk production has been increasing as more farmers have taken up dairy farming, amid growing support from the Government, while the national herd has been supplemented with imported heifers to accelerate growth from the local breeding stock. Dairy growth is slower than beef herd growth since not only are extra heifers required, but those heifers have to grow up and drop their own calf before they become a milking cow.
Latest figures from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s dairy services department show that milk intake by processors rose 14 percent to 74,96 million litres from 65,80 million litres in 2021 and milk powder imports declined by 17 percent from 8.9 million kg in 2021 to 7.4million kg last year.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said statistics signify Government’s thrust for import substitution and growth in the dairy sector.
He said a number of interventions implemented by the Government and private sector helped to improve dairy output last year.
“This is coming up as a backdrop of a number of interventions that the private sector and the Government are undertaking. The dairy heifer growth is funded from the Dairy Development Fund, this entails expanding the dairy herd from about 19 000 dairy herd to about 25 000 and of course the private sector and public sector interventions. Presidential silage programme targeted 1 500 small holder dairy farmers with a standard input package for a one hectare silage for each household of dairy farmers so this helped in terms of improving productivity in the dairy sub-sector.
“This also closed a viability gap whereby the input costs is actually going up and with silage you can reduce your feed costs significantly then it will plug the viability gap,” he said.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union economist Ms Nyasha Taderera said the improvement made so far in the dairy sector is a positive step towards the growth of the dairy industry.
“This is a positive step towards improvement of the dairy sector. There will be reduction of import of milk powders from South Africa. This also shows that milk consumption in the country will increase and there will be more investors in the dairy industry,” she said.
The Government supported the dairy sector in the national budget by introducing a 5 percent duty on dairy imports to capacitate the dairy recovery programme. At the same time the budget sets a phased reduction in the quantity of raw cheese and raw milk powder that can be imported each year without high duties.
Under the livestock and recovery growth plan, milk production is intended to rise from the obtaining annual production of 79,9 million litres to 150 million litres, and increase the dairy herd from 39 980 to 60 000 by 2025. About US$75 million is required to fully revitalise the sector.