ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s dairy sector is witnessing a significant boost in raw milk production, fueled by a range of measures implemented to enhance the sector’s performance.

Statistics from the Diary Services Unit (DSU) reveal that the first ten months of this year saw a remarkable increase, reaching 80,988,345 liters compared to 74,430,341 liters during the same period in 2022.

October alone showed an 11% monthly increase, indicating a positive trend.

The Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future (TranZDVC) Project Coordinator, Dr. Edison Chifamba, expressed optimism that the country is on track to produce between 100 and 105 million liters of raw milk by the end of the year.

Looking ahead, the goal is to reach 120 million liters in 2024 and a target of 150 million liters by 2025, reflecting an impressive growth trajectory.

Despite challenges such as high feed costs affecting the dairy sector, Dr. Chifamba is confident that the ongoing importation of dairy animals by farmers will contribute to meeting raw milk needs in the coming years.

The sector’s resilience is demonstrated by the anticipated 15% growth in 2023, with projections for additional growth in the following years.

Tendayi Clementine Marecha, Secretary General of the Dairy Processors Association of Zimbabwe (DPAZ), echoed positive sentiments, stating that raw milk production is expected to reach about 103 million liters by the end of the year.

She highlighted the increased capacity utilization at the processing level and a 15% rise in milk productivity per cow per day.

However, challenges persist within the sector, as outlined by Mrs. Marecha. These include the lack of a streamlined process for import and export documentation, pre-shipping inspections, and taxation of raw materials, all contributing to increased production costs and potential competitiveness issues in the market.

On the flip side, Zimbabwe’s commitment to the import substitution policy is evident in the declining trend of dairy product imports.

According to statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats), dairy product imports decreased by 24% in volume, from 7,295,241 kilograms between January and October 2022 to 5,533,130 kilograms during the same period this year.

In value terms, the decline was 14%, from US$23,827,047 to US$20,465,770.

The range of dairy products imported by Zimbabwe includes various forms of milk and cream, yogurt, buttermilk, ice cream, whey, butter, and various kinds of cheese.

The shift towards increased local production aligns with the country’s broader economic goals and self-sufficiency in key sectors.