Zim raw milk output marginally up
Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s raw milk production for the eight months to August has increased slightly by 0.8 percent compared to the same period last year owing to the continued availability of feed and vaccines on the local market.
Apart from the slight increase, the Southern African country still needs to do more to meet its annual demand of around 120 million litres.
Currently the country is importing milk and a milk products from its neighbours such South Africa to fill the gap.
Generally, raw milk production has been going down in most Southern African Development Community (SADC) owing to viability problems.
To ensure that people have cheap protein the dairy sector should be given the same priority as crop production.
Statistics from the Dairy Service Department, in the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development reveal that marginal increase in raw milk production was also recorded in August where 4.8 million litres were produced compared to July’s 4.7l.
The figures also show that raw milk intake by processors remained at around 4.1 million litres every month throughout the period under review.
According to the unit 54.7 million litres of milk were realised in 2013 compared to 55.9 produced in 2012.
An agricultural economist Evans Chitenderu said albeit the small increase, the dairy sector was recovering. “Yes things are not going the way we want them to be, but we are not lost as a country soon we will be self-reliant in terms of milk. Farmers, government and other players are doing all they can to up production which is good for our nation,” Chitenderu said.
“We now urge government to give the same priority it gives to crop production, be extended to the diary sector. The Presidential Input Scheme must also be extended to dairy producers to boost their operations as well.”
Chitenderu said dairy producers needed to adhere to the best practices in dairy farming.
“Short cuts will not help farmers; where possible they should employ or hire animal specialists who can assist them regularly. Things like dipping, dosing and vaccination should always be on the farmer’s calendar and followed religiously for raw milk output to continue on an upward trend,” Chitenderu said.
National milk production peaked at 256 million litres in 1990 and the lowest record was 36 million litres in 2009.
Zimbabwe is not alone in dire need to recapitalise its diary sector. For instance northern neighbour, Zambia smallholder dairy farmers’ contribution is about 40 percent of the all marketed milk and large-scale commercial and emergent farmers supply 70 percent.
In total, all these farmers produce approximately 193 million litres of milk per year compared to the country’s total milk requirement of 253 million litres of milk per year.
This yields a milk deficit, which renders Zambia to import about 25 percent of its milk requirement like most of its SADC counter parts.