ZIMBABWE – Raw milk production in Zimbabwe has witnessed a notable increase, with January 2024 recording a 17% increase compared to the same period last year.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development’s Dairy Services Department, the country experienced a surge in milk output, reaching 9.52 million liters, up from 8.14 million liters in January 2023.

This growth trajectory was attributed to significant investments within the dairy sector, boosted by the significant plans and initiatives aligned with the Livestock Growth Plan.

The plan, designed to elevate the industry to a US$1.9 billion valuation by 2025, is part of the broader Agriculture Food Systems Transformation strategy and aimed at fostering a US$8.2 billion agriculture economy by 2025 in line with Vision 2030.

Meanwhile, players in the Zimbabwean dairy sector, both public and private have initiated collaborative efforts alongside development partners and are mobilizing funding for projects under the growth plan.

Such initiatives are instrumental in driving innovation, modernization, and efficiency enhancements throughout the dairy value chain.

With the efforts involved, statistics revealed that retail milk production surged by 26%  from 609 577 litres in the same period in 2023 to 770 553 litres. January milk output at 9,52 million litres was marginally up from 9,5 million litres recorded in December 2023.

Despite the positive strides, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka revealed that challenges persist, notably in feedstock costs, which account for over 65% of total milk production expenses.

Dr Anxious emphasized the need to address feed-related challenges to enhance the sector’s viability. Plans include ramping up farm feed production, optimizing feed formulation, and providing support for irrigation, mechanization, and pasture development.

The issue of uncompetitive stock feed prices on the domestic market remains a pressing concern, leading to Zimbabwe’s relatively high raw milk cost compared to its regional counterparts.

Dr. Masuka highlighted the importance of achieving vertical growth, aimed at increasing milk production per cow through continuous importation of improved genetics and facilitating on-farm feed production.

“The major challenges for the sector are feed, which accounts for more than 65% of the cost, and in some establishments, feed costs can be up to 85% of production, therefore impacting the viability of the individual dairy farmer and the industry as a whole,” he said.

“In the meantime, the government plans to increase farmers’ business viability through increased farm feed production and feed formulation and by providing support for irrigation, mechanisation, and pasture development.”

According to the Minister, the transformation of the agricultural sector commenced with the launch of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy in 2020

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