ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s milk production has witnessed a remarkable 21% increase to 27.3 million liters during the first quarter of 2024 compared to 22.61 million liters in the same period last year, according to the latest data.

This surge comes as concerns about reduced feedstocks, particularly roughage like maize silage and protein sources rise, due to the impact of the El Niño-induced drought, which may affect national milk production and productivity.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Dairy Services Department revealed that milk intake by processors surged by 21% in the first quarter of 2024 to 25.07 million liters from 20.74 million liters in the comparative period.

Retail milk production also saw a notable 19% increase to 2.22 million liters in the first quarter of 2024, compared to 1.86 million liters in the same period of 2023, with an average output of 9.1 million liters.

March 2024 witnessed a 19% increase in milk production, reaching 8.96 million liters compared to 7.51 million liters in March last year.

Moreover, January marked the highest milk output at 9.52 million liters. Despite this surge, Zimbabwe’s annual milk requirement stands at approximately 120 million liters, necessitating supplementation through imports.

In 2023, Zimbabwe’s milk production rose by 9% to 99.82 million liters from 91.39 million liters in 2022. Strategic government interventions, including the Presidential Silage Inputs Scheme, have played a crucial role in this growth trajectory.

The scheme aims to enhance the quality and quantity of livestock feed by providing subsidized silage inputs to farmers, ensuring a consistent and nutritious diet for dairy cows and subsequently increasing milk yields.

The success of the silage inputs scheme has been complemented by the European Union’s US$7 million funding facility to Zimbabwe under the Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain project.

This initiative benefited small-to-medium-scale dairy farmers, providing 500 in-calf heifers in 2021 and contributing to the rising number of actively milked dairy cows across the country.

Currently, approximately 35,000 dairy cows are contributing to the increased production levels, a tangible outcome of these agricultural initiatives.

These interventions are aligned with Zimbabwe’s Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan, which aims to increase the national dairy herd from 19,000 in 2021 to 40,000 by 2025, highlighting the country’s commitment to revitalizing its dairy sector and ensuring food security.

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