ZIMBABWE – Government-initiated and private sector-led interventions are starting to yield positive results for Zimbabwe’s dairy sector, with milk output increasing from 83 million liters in 2022 to 90 million liters in 2023.

This growth aligns with the country’s efforts to reduce reliance on imports and achieve self-sufficiency in milk production.

Zimbabwe requires approximately 131 million liters of raw milk annually for self-sufficiency, with imports filling the gap.

The Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) is optimistic about the sector’s progress, with the national chairperson, Mr. Edward Warambwa, stating that the country will be milk self-sufficient by 2025, with surplus production for export.

“Challenges facing the sector include expensive feed, a low milk-in-cow population, inadequate support, and the unavailability of proper finance,” he said.

Warambwa emphasized the importance of structured finance to enable the import of superior genetics and breeds through serviced semen.

The country currently has around 30,000 milk-in-cow and aims to reach 50,000 by 2025.

The Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future (TranZDVC) project coordinator, Dr. Edison Chifamba, expressed optimism that milk production would reach between 100 and 105 million liters by the end of the year, surpassing last year’s 91 million.

The 2024 target is 120 million liters, with the 2025 goal set at 150 million liters.

Despite challenges such as high feed costs, Chifamba and the Dairy Processors Association of Zimbabwe (DPAZ) secretary general, Mrs. Tendayi Clementine Marecha, are confident that the country will meet its local raw milk needs by 2025.

Capacity utilization at processing levels has increased from 40% in 2020 to the current 55%, and milk productivity has risen from 13 liters per cow per day in 2020 to the current 15.

However, challenges such as the lack of one-stop shops for import and export documentation, pre-shipping inspections, and taxation on raw materials contribute to increased production costs.

The local milk production has shown a positive trend since 2017, increasing from 66 million liters to 91.4 million in 2022.

Statistics from the Dairy Services Unit (DSU) indicate a 9% increase in total milk production from January to November 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Monthly production figures during this period have consistently surpassed 2022 values by percentages ranging from 2% to 15%.