ZIMBABWE – Efforts towards dairy self-sufficiency in Zimbabwe have started bearing fruits with local production rising to 91.4 million litres in 2022 from 79.6 million in the year prior.

The higher milk output comes from a growing national herd population which has grown to 39,000 heads of cattle.

This growth has been attributed to the government’s multiple initiatives as revealed by the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera.

The spike in local production has caused a 17% drop in milk powder imports from 8.9 million kgs in 2021 to 7.4 million kgs in 2022, according to Dr Basera.

During the presentation of the 2023 national budget, the Finance and economic development Minister, Prof. Mthuli Ncube announced a significant initiative from the government toward the revitalization of the dairy sector.

The professor said, “In line with the objectives of NDS1, there was a need to gradually substitute imports through increased production, coupled with the simultaneous increase in the uptake of raw milk by processing companies from the current level of 70 million litres to 130 million per annum by 2025.”

To achieve this goal, Prof Mthuli urged dairy processors to increase their uptake of raw milk from smallholder farmers and increase their support to out-grower schemes so as to help build the stock of the dairy herd.

In line with that, the government also proposed to gradually reduce milk powder and cheese imports in a sliding scale manner starting at 75% in 2023 to 50% in 2024 and 25% in 2025.

This move was applauded by many stakeholders in the dairy industry value chain with Dr Reneth Mano, the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council administrator noting that the program “will a long way to capacitate local producers.”

The administrator, however, called for increased payments made to local producers for their raw milk.  The price is currently US$0.38 per litre and according to him, it will not assist in the herd rebuilding exercise.

He believes that an increase to US$0.65 is better suited to enable local producers to afford production costs and therefore grow their herds.

There was a 5% levy on the value of imported dairy products introduced by professor Ncube during the 2022 national budget presentation, Dr Mano suggests that these funds be used for breeder stock multiplication from breeder farmers identified in the country.

To improve production, Dr Mano revealed that he had proposed to the Agriculture and Rural Development Advisory Services(ARDAS) for five to seven major breeders of cows to be identified for the production of pure and cross breeds.

This he says would improve the genetic makeup of the cows in Zimbabwe and in the long term “ensure that heifers are available locally at competitive prices.”

For all the latest food industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.