HARARE: Zimbabwe’s annual raw milk output for 2015 increased by a five percent margin to record 58 million litres, up from the previous year’s 55 million litres, as production continues to increase.
Latest statistics from the Dairy Services Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development shows that the total monthly milk production rebounded to 5.3 million litres in December, following a slump in November of 4.6 million litres. Compared to December 2014, there was an increase of 8.2 percent, from 4.9 million litres.
The Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) national chairman, Emmanuel Zimbandu yesterday told Business Chronicle that the increase in the raw milk production was as a result of dairy herd imports from South Africa. He said various industries in the dairy sector, last year embarked on heifer importation programmes.
“In 2015, we recorded a clean five percent increase in the milk output largely owed to the players in the sector’s efforts of scaling up operations,” said Zimbandu. He said this year the dairy sector’s major thrust was to maintain the dairy herd.
“We advise farmers to intensify growing of short season varieties of grass that are drought tolerant,” said Zimbandu. The government is targeting a growth of seven percent in the dairy sector over the next five years to be financed from proceeds of the levy on pasteurised milk imports.
The Ministry of Macro-economic Planning and Investment Promotion said in its 2015 fourth quarter macro-economic bulletin, the levy will help grow the commercial dairy herd. About 28,000 commercial dairy cows are lactating and producing about 56 million litres of milk annually against national requirement of about 120 million.
Production has been gradually rising over the past years with processors like Dairibord, Nestle and Dendairy also embarking on heifer importation schemes. The move is expected to contribute to increased output. The dairy industry is operating at 45 percent capacity, with an estimated 223 registered dairy operators and a dairy herd of about 26,000 cows.
The government has said it is working on a livestock policy to drive the industry towards efficiency of production as well as growing the capacities of small-scale dairy farmers. In 1990, the country was producing over 256 million litres and exporting into the region and beyond before plummeting to an all-time low of 36 million litres in 2009 due to economic challenges facing the country.