Zim raw milk production drops slightly
Harare – Zimbabwe’s raw milk production dropped slightly in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period last year, owing to lack of adequate pastures.
Figures released by the Dairy Services department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development show that 35.9 million litres of raw milk were produced between January and August this year, down from 36.3 million litres realised in the first eight months of 2012.
The country’s 2013 raw milk output is expected to reach 70 million litres from last year’s 55.9 million, although the figure still falls far short of the national demand of 120 million litres per annum. Imports from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa are filling the current gap in milk and milk products supply.
Milk production plummeted over the decade ending 2009 to one million litres per month due to high production costs sparked by hyperinflationary conditions that prevailed in the country then.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Chief Dairy Officer, Tendai Marecha, says poor rainfall patterns negatively affected milk production.
“There were inadequate rains in the last months of the summer seasons, which led to poor pastures. As a result some farmers could not store enough fodder for their cows for the dry season and this has a huge impact on milk output,” says Marecha.
Despite registering a drop in the last eight months, raw milk production has continued to increase since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies in 2009. Multiple currencies enabled most dairy producers to restock, buy feeds and vaccines with new ones joining the industry once a preserve of the white minority.
Leading milk and dairy products producer, Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, also embarked on a milk supply development programme during the fourth quarter of 2011 by importing 250 heifers, which were allocated to farmers across the provinces.
The move by the company follows a similar one by Nestle Zimbabwe that saw the Swiss-controlled multinational investing US$14m into the importation of 2 000 heifers distributed to raw milk producers association members in some parts of the country. Zimbabwe’s dairy sector is poised to grow further as the economy continues to improve.