Zim milk production dips
Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s annual raw milk production in 2013 dropped slightly compared to that of 2012 mainly due to high production costs.
Figures released this week by the Dairy Services Department in the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development show that 54.7 million litres of milk were realised in 2013 compared to 55.9m litres produced the previous year.
The decrease is attributed to the liquidity crunch, small dairy herd and lack of cheap credit lines on the local market. Statistics from the Dairy Service Department show that despite the annual decline there was an increase in raw milk output between the months of November and December.
In December milk production rose to 5.076m litres from 4.560m litres the previous month.
Zimbabwe's 2013 milk output was expected to reach 70 million litres against a national demand of 120 million litres per annum.
Milk production plunged over the decade ending 2009 to one million litres per month due to high production costs spurred by hyper-inflationary conditions that prevailed in the country then.
However, milk production continued on an upward trend since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies in 2009 with the country producing 55 929 694 litres in 2012.
The positive trend is also being sparked by the new dairy farmers, who have joined the industry formally a preserve of the white farmers. These new producers have also gained experienced over the years enabling them to increase production and quality.
South Africa is currently dominating the region in terms of milk production as most of the products being consumed in the Southern African Development Community are coming from the rainbow nation.
Despite the slight decrease in 2013 there is hope that the Southern African country’s raw milk production can surge if the ongoing recapitalisation of small holder dairy farmers continue to be prioritised and implemented by government and the private sector as we have witnessed in recent years.
Leading milk and dairy products producer, Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, embarked on a milk supply development programme during the fourth quarter of 2011 by importing 250 heifers, which were allocated to some milk producing districts.
The move by the company go after a similar one by Nestle Zimbabwe that saw the multinational spending US$14 million into the importation of 2 000 heifers also distributed to raw milk producers association members in some parts of the country.
Presently, milk production in the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African Community (EAC) is estimated at only 12 million metric tons against a demand of 14 million metric tons per annum.
Approximately seven percent of the world's nutritional and 15 percent of its protein requirements are supplied by dairy products. It is estimated that 430 000 tonnes of milk are being produced annually in the world by approximately 200 million cows.