Zimbabwe’s milk supplies have dwindled over the past years due to the depleted national dairy herd, resulting in Dairibord producing only 30 million litres in 2009 as compared to 180 million litres of milk at independence in 1980.
This was revealed in a report on Dairibord Holdings produced last week by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce following a fact-finding visit to Dairibord head office in Harare.
“The amount of milk delivered was to a large extent affected by the national dairy herd and the number of dairy farmers which had dwindled,” read the committee report.
“The committee was informed that in 1990 to 1991 the total dairy herd was 192 000 but in 2009, it was estimated to have dwindled to about 22 000.”
The statistics produced by the committee also revealed that in 1991 there were 550 dairy farmers in the country, compared to only 250 in 2009. “In the year 2000, a total of 314 farmers in the country produced volumes of milk amounting to 168 million litres and this dropped down in 2009 to 40 million litres from 250 dairy farmers,” the report said.
“The period required by the dairy industry to begin recovery for lost livestock is about five years. At the time of the committee’s visit in 2011, it was revealed that Dairibord was operating at about 25% capacity. There was an improvement from the 2009 levels, but this fell too far below the government target of 60% capacity utilisation announced as part of the recovery programme.”
The committee added: “Erratic power supplies affected the refrigeration of dairy products resulting in some losses over and above the losses incurred through lack of production due to load shedding. There was a cost of $190 000 per month to the impact of power outages.”
The report said the dairy industry also had challenges in the quality, availability and cost of raw materials for dairy products, as well as the state of the plant and equipment which needed repair and maintenance after years of neglect.