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Milk output in frothy 17% surge

Zimbabwe’s national milk production rose 17 percent to 59,01 million litres in the first eight months of 2022 from 50,62 million litres recorded in the same period last year, latest statistics from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development dairy services department show.

The country’s raw milk output has reached nearly half of the annual requirement with three and a half months remaining before the end of 2022. The country requires 120 million litres annually.

As more farmers enter the dairy industry and the national herd has been augmented by imported heifers, milk production has been rising exponentially.

Official data shows that raw milk intake by processors surged by 15 percent to 53,14 million litres from 46,09 million litres in the comparative period.

In its half-year results, Dairibord Holdings, the country’s largest milk processor, highlighted the issue of high input costs.

“The price of stock feed continued to rise in line with food inflation pressure,” it said.

Initiatives for aggressive milk supply development have been boosted by the dairy processor in order to produce milk at a low cost and in large quantities.

“The long-term benefits will be competitive local milk prices, import substitution of milk powders and opportunities for export growth.”

Producers’ retailed milk increased by 29 percent to 5,86 million litres from 4,52 million litres the previous year.

The Government has continued to provide money and other sorts of support since it is particularly interested in the expansion of the dairy industry. Ernest Muzorewa, national chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), said “main drivers have been improved nutrition and increased herd from imported heifers and good management as result of farmer training programmes.”

ZADF will begin a local heifer breeding program on July 19, 2022, as a step to improve the genetic quality of the country’s milking herd and supplement current efforts to cut back on the importation of heifers.

On the other hand, through the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, the association is advocating for critical stakeholders and the technical team of the association to examine milk pricing.

On a monthly basis, the southern African nation requires about 10 million litres. However, it is failing to reach it. To meet demand, the country must import them (milk powders).

August milk output increased 10,17 percent to 7,81 million litres from 7,09 million litres in the same period last year. The 7,81 million litres is a slight decrease from the 7,84 million litres produced in July. Therefore, the month of July has produced the most so far.

Dairy farmers produced 79,6 million litres in 2021, representing a 4 percent increase from the 76,69 million litres produced in 2020.

The Government has now cooperated with the business sector in the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to improve milk production in the country, with the cow herd poised to grow to about 30 000 cows. Lack of finance has been identified as a key threat to milk production.