Zimbabwe 'increases raw milk production'

2013-04-02 12:36

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Harare - Raw milk production in Zimbabwe increased slightly in the first two months of the year compared to the same period last year as most farmers intensified operations while new ones joined the industry.

Figures released by the dairy services department show that 8 858 060 litres of raw milk were produced in January and February this year, up from 8 543 608 litres in the first two months of 2012.

Zimbabwe's 2013 milk output is expected to reach 70 million litres from last year’s 55 929 694, although the figure still falls far short of the national demand of 120 million litres per annum.

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 said milk production had continued to increase since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies in 2009.

"We are witnessing an increase in milk production in recent years and we really commend producers and processors for the effort they are making to up production," Marecha said.

"The increase can also be attributed to the good rains which were received at the beginning of the season which ensures enough pastures for dairy cows in most parts of the country."

She urged farmers to prepare adequate stock feeds for their animals since during the dry season pastures were scarce.

Exports of dairy products

"Dairy farmers should now store huge stocks of feed ahead of the dry season to ensure that their cows remain healthy for them to produce more."

The country’s 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 farmers across the provinces.

The move by the company follows a similar one by Nestle Zimbabwe that saw the Swiss-controlled multinational investing $14m into the importation of 2 000 heifers distributed to raw milk producers association members in some parts of the country.

Commenting on the same issue Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Wonder Chabikwa expressed confidence that the industry was poised for further growth.

"If Government, farmers and processors continue to work together  like what we have seen in the past years, raw milk production is set to increase further to the extent that  the country will be self-sustainable as well as resuming exports of dairy products," Chabikwa said.

"The farmer on the ground is keen to improve production and we hope that inflation remains low," she said.

Chabikwa applauded raw milk producers for what they have achieved so far with the support of milk processors and government, but said milk volumes were still very low as most milk products were still being imported from neighbouring countries.

National dairy herd

He said the increase in milk production was also due to an increase in the national dairy herd.

"Generally the national herd is picking up and also expensive stock feeds and vaccines are now available although the prices are still high," Chabikwa said.

Zimbabwe has the highest producer price for raw milk in the world at between $0.55-59 a litre against $0.35-39 a litre in South Africa, $0.18-20 a litre in Uganda, $0.28 in Kenya, $0.22 in the US and $0.14-21 in New Zealand.

Currently, there are 223 registered dairy operators in the country and an estimated dairy herd of about 26 000 animals. 

At its peak Zimbabwe produced over 150 million litres of milk annually, exporting into the region and beyond.  CAJ News

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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