A LESSON IN SURVIVAL
THE DECLINE IN Zimbabwe’s economy in 2004 (-2,3%), in 2005 (-4,2%) and in 2006 (estimated at -2,5%) is, according to the Zimbabwe Country File 2006, largely the result of drastic drops in the country’s agricultural earnings.
The previously respectable crops began falling drastically from 1998, shortly before the start of the land reform fiasco: the wheat crop dropped from around 300 000t to 64 000t last year; coffee fell from 10 000t to 1 500t; and tobacco from around 224 000t to less than 60 000t.
However, dairy producers aren’t doing so badly, with a figure of about 93 000t, compared to 197 000t in 1998.
Deon Theron, chairman of Zimbabwe’s National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF), says in the latest issue of Dairy Mail Africa that the good co-operation within the dairy industry was largely responsible for the survival of dairy farmers. “The NADF has a very good relationship with the processors and the price is constantly determined according to a model that allows, among others, for inflation.”
Theron says it took 50 years before milk cost Z$4 000/litre. But it then took just one year for the price to increase to Z$77 000/litre. “With inflation above 1 000%, quick and constant price adjustments are essential.”
In SA, there’s considerable friction between farmers and processors. Many of the dairy farmers leaving the industry feel that processors in SA don’t compensate them properly and that co-operation isn’t as it should be.
Perhaps they should learn from Zimbabwe’s dairy industry.