Tapiwanashe Mangwiro Senior Business Reporter
RAW milk production rose by 14 percent to 7,38 million litres in January this year compared to the same period last year, official figures show.
Zimbabwe’s milk production is improving steadily after the Government, in partnership with WeEffect Zimbabwe and stakeholders, launched a four-year dairy project to the tune of US$8 million in 2021.
The project is expected to increase the country’s annual raw milk output to meet the national monthly domestic demand of 10 million litres.
The scheme will benefit 4 000 small scale farmers and is part of a US$45 million European Union funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP).
The project includes a national milk mapping exercise to guide the implementation.
The ZAGP mapped traditional milk producing areas and identified at least 33 districts where the initiative can be rolled out.
The areas with the highest milk production densities are Umguza, Kwekwe, Marondera and Goromonzi.
Latest figures from the dairy services department show that milk intake by processors rose 13 percent to 6,65 million litres from 5,88 million litres in the comparative period.
Retailed milk by producers surged by 27 percent to 736 281 litres from 580 936 litres last year.
In 2021, the dairy sector produced 79,6 million litres in 2021, representing a 4 percent increase from 76,69 million litres produced in 2020. This is against annual demand of about 120 million litres.
The increase in January milk output is largely attributed to improvements in the rains.
This comes as dairy cows require a lot of water to drink and enough pasture since most of the farmers are based on grazing.
While the country does not produce enough milk, the excess demand is being met through powdered milk imports mainly from neighbouring South Africa by processors under a duty-free quota system to approved importers.
Milk supply remains constrained by the high cost of stock feeds.
However, the Government launched command silage, a welcome initiative intended to support dairy farmers grow their own silage in order to improve stock feed availability and reduce cost of milk production.
This is poised to further improve milk production. In his 2022 budget statement, Finance and Economic development Minister Ncube tabled a 5 percent levy on dairy product imports.
He insisted that the 5 percent tax on dairy imports was meant to “improve performance in the dairy value chain” with the funds meant for “re-capitalising the Dairy Revitalisation Fund, targeted at growth and development” of the dairy sector.
Milk output is projected to reach 95 million litres in 2022 and about US$75 million is required to fully revitalise the sector.