Zim raw milk output up 4,3 percent
Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s raw milk production for May 2015 has increased 4,3 percent compared to April owing to improved cooperation between government, dairy farmers and milk processors.
According the Dairy Services Department (DSD) in the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development, in May Zimbabwe produced 4,8 million litres of raw milk up from 4,6 million litres, the previous month.
The figures also show that raw milk output also increased to 22,7 million litres in the first five months of 2015 up from 22,3 million litres in 2014.
Last year, the Southern African country produced 55,5 million litres of raw milk up from 54,7 million litres in 2013. The local dairy industry is currently operating at about 45 percent capacity, with an estimated 223 registered dairy associations and a dairy herd of over 26 000 cows.
This year, the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) is targeting an increase of 0,5 to 1 percent.
Commenting on the state of dairy farming, DSD said the surge in raw milk output continued on the upward trend in the first five months of the year.
“Indications are that the year will see an 8-9 percent increase in comparison with 2014. Processors who have over the past period made huge investments in increasing capacity utilization have also been investing on the producers who are their source of raw material, milk,” the department said.
“This has been through credit facilities for heifer imports, feed and infrastructure development.”
Milk processors in Zimbabwe include Alpha and Omega, Dairibord, Nestle, DenDairy and Kefalos.
DSD said the decision by government to spare dairy farms under the land reform programme had also assured farmers.
“Continued assurance by government that the policy which exempts dairy farms from acquisition (for resettlement) has instilled confidence in dairy farmers who on their part have now put focus on increasing production through efficient farming practices which compensate for high production costs that impact on profit margins,” it said.
Despite the poor cropping season, it said, the industry is optimistic that grain importation rules which have been relaxed will allow stock feed availability.
“However there is need for affordable long term financial funding to the industry to allow new players to come on board so as to increase the producer base.”
It said the availability of stock feed had also contributed to the increase in production.
“Since its harvest time, dairy farmers have access to cheaper stock feeds in the form of crop residue such as maize and soya bean stover. This lowers production costs at the same time increasing production,” it said.
Dairy farming is practiced in most parts of the country which include Tsonzo and Headlands (Manicaland Province), Marirangwe (Mashonaland East), Kwekwe (Midlands) and Concession (Mashonaland Central).
In the Southern African region only South Africa and Zimbabwe have viable, well established dairy industries. Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana are in the process of building their industries.
The dairy industry in Zimbabwe began in the early 1900s with the first commercial dairy outlet established in Plumtree in Matabeleland South province.
The past century has seen the growth of a highly developed industry and with milk regarded as an important commodity in the agricultural sector.