ZIMBABWE – Milk production in Zimbabwe is poised to surpass 100 million litres this year, a notable increase from the 91 million litres produced in the previous season.

The government’s continued support and assistance to farmers have contributed to this growth, with initiatives aimed at import substitution and bolstering the dairy sector.

According to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development’s dairy services department, farmers have already produced 81 million litres since the beginning of the year.

Processors recorded an intake of 74 million litres, surpassing last year’s 67 million litres. This positive trend aligns with the government’s strategy for import substitution and overall sector growth.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri emphasized that the figures reflect the government’s commitment to fostering growth in the dairy sector.

The surge in milk production can be attributed to more farmers engaging in dairy farming, coupled with support from the government, including the importation of heifers to boost the national herd.

Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) Mashonaland West Region vice chairman Mr Cloudious Burira expressed optimism about surpassing the 100 million-litre target this season.

He cited various measures implemented by the government, favorable weather conditions, and support from the European Union donor fund as contributing factors.

Mr. Burira highlighted interventions such as education programs for farmers on boosting milk production and the preparation of farm feed formulas.

The private sector and government collaboration in these initiatives are aimed at enhancing the overall performance of the sector.

The growth in the dairy herd is supported by the Dairy Development Fund, which aims to expand the dairy herd from approximately 19,000 to 25,000.

The Presidential Silage Programme, targeting smallholder dairy farmers, provides a standard input package for one-hectare silage to improve productivity.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union economist Ms Nyasha Taderera sees the progress in the dairy sector as a positive step, anticipating a reduction in the import of milk powders from South Africa.

In addition, she expects increased milk consumption in the country and a surge in investor interest in the dairy industry.

Under the livestock and recovery growth plan, Zimbabwe aims to increase milk production to 150 million litres and expand the dairy herd from 39,980 to 60,000 by 2025.

A significant investment of approximately US$75 million is needed to fully revitalize the sector and sustain its upward trajectory.