Milk output down 50%

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

THE Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) says its members have so far produced 45 million litres of milk against their yearly target of 90 million litres.

ZADF chairperson Kudzai Chirima told NewsDay that the industry was currently being weighed down by drought which has affected the availability of stockfeeds.

“So far, we have registered a 13% growth against our target of 15%. We have so far produced about 45 million litres of milk against our 2019 target of 90 million. We hope that the rains would come early this year
so that we can be able to meet our target,” Chirima said.

Zimbabwe requires at least 120 million litres of milk annually.

“The major challenges that we are facing include stockfeed shortages, high cost of drugs and chemicals,” Chirima said.

Some of their requirements include foreign currency, vaccines, cleaning detergents, semen for artificial insemination and equipment.

Dairy farmers are also struggling to access funding from banks because of the punitive interest rates on any loans availed to them.

Due to these challenges, milk production levels have dramatically plummeted from the early 1990s peak of 260 million litres per year to 75,4 million which was achieved in 2018. In 2017, milk production stood at 66
million litres.

Government is targeting to increase milk production by between 97 million and 100 million litres per annum.

Government and the European Union recently launched a US$45 million Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme fund which is expected to boost the livestock sector, maximise smallholder farmers’ profits and improve
competitiveness on domestic and international markets.

At least 1 000 in-calf dairy heifers will be distributed to farmers on a revolving basis under the programme.

Currently, Zimbabwe’s dairy herd stands at 38 200.

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