ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s dairy industry witnessed a notable uptick, with milk production rising by 9% to 90.31 million liters during the 11 months leading up to November 2023, as revealed by the latest data from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development’s Dairy Services Department.

The increase is compared to the 83.06 million liters reported during the same period in 2022.

Statistics further indicated that the country’s milk intake by processors surged by 11% to 83.02 million liters, up from 74.95 million liters in the corresponding period of the previous year.

However, retail milk production faced a setback, declining by 10% from 8.11 million liters in 2022 to 7.28 million liters.

Despite this, the average milk output for the period stood at an encouraging 8.21 million liters, compared to 7.55 million liters in the same timeframe of 2022.

November 2023 recorded a significant rise of 15% in milk output, reaching 9.32 million liters—marking the highest monthly output so far, closely following October 2023, which saw 9 million liters produced.

Dairy sector players adjusted their annual milk output target to 100 million liters, down from the previous 109 million liters, attributing the revision to the high cost of production affecting regional competitiveness.

The sector requires approximately US$75 million for full revitalization, and during the mentioned period, milk powder imports also decreased from 8.9 million kg to 7.4 million kg.

Despite challenges, if the current growth rate is sustained, Zimbabwe aims to surpass the national milk target of 150 million liters by 2025, with the country needing 130 million liters annually.

Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) national chairperson, Mr. Ernest Muzorewa, anticipated an increase in milk production from 91 million liters in 2022 to about 100 million liters in the current year.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development attributed the success to collaborative efforts between the government, the private sector, and development partners.

Their joint interventions, aligned with the Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan, have increased farmer interest and confidence in the sector.

This plan included a deliberate effort to boost the national dairy herd from 19,000 in 2021 to 29,000 in 2022, incorporating the Government’s private sector-funded dairy heifer program.

Despite the positive momentum, the dairy sector faces challenges such as low productivity, limited dairy animals, weak genetics in the herd, high production and processing costs, limited access to affordable finance and foreign currency, high compliance costs, and the impacts of climate change.

To address these issues, modernization through the adoption of proven technologies and management systems is crucial for dairy farmers to enhance both the quantity and quality of their milk production.

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