Zim’s dairy industry poised for further growth
ZIMBABWE’S dairy industry, which has received investment to the tune of $22 million in processing plants and machinery between 2014 and 2016, is poised for further growth as the Government and several industry players are pressing ahead with a comprehensive, all inclusive national milk production programme to ensure self-sufficiency by 2020.
Mr Emmanuel Zimbandu, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), told journalists this week that recent moves by a public-private sector partnership programme — Dairy Revitalisation Programme (DRP) — to import 400 heifers in calf (pregnant) at an estimated cost of $540 000 will significantly boost the country’s milk production potential.
“We have imported 400 heifers in calf, which will be handed over to small-scale dairy farmers by the President (Mugabe) next week,” he said.
“This is an initiative to grow the economy. We are playing our part as a sector or industry in the economy.
“We want our farmers to milk the cow and not the cow to milk the farmer. We want our farmers to get meaningful returns from keeping their cows and be motivated to produce more milk for the country.”
Zimbabwe will soon launch a five-year strategy to make the country self-sufficient in milk amid hopes that the dairy sector will ramp up production and target some 200 million litres of milk by 2020.
The 400 heifers were bought using funds mobilised through the Government’s Dairy Resuscitation Fund which raises its money from a 10 percent levy on imported milk product imports.
Mr Zimbandu said DRP will aim to use improved genetics and latest scientific animal breeding techniques to improve dairy productivity across communal, small-scale and commercial agriculture.
Selection and importation of suitable stock and semen, he said, is expected to significantly boost national milk production potential.
Early this year, Zimbabwe introduced a battery of measures under the gazetted Statutory Instrument 64 which outlawed the importation of a range of basic commodities including finished dairy products.
Despite facing stiff resistance and an outcry, the measures are saving jobs and dairy industries which had come under extreme risk of being pushed out of business.
Local dairy industry players welcomed the move arguing the local industry has the capacity to meet the country’s dairy requirements.
Last year, milk production reached 58 million litres out of an estimated demand of 120 million litres and dairy industry players are projecting to produce 66 million litres this year and 77 million litres by 2017.
“Currently, our herd is about 29 000 and we are targeting to have more 33 000 by 2018,” Mr Zimbandu said.
“All things being equal, by 2018 we should be selfsufficient. We should be able to supply milk at the right quantity and at the right price.”
A total of 93 small-scale farmers are expected to benefit from the Dairy Revitalisation Programme, which is expected to handover 400 heifers soon.
“Breeding efficiency is in every way a measure of livestock productivity and in dairying, milk is product of the cow breeding cycle,” the ZADF chairman said. “Farmers will be trained and we will work closely with our livestock extension workers.”
Farmers will receive the heifers under a revolving fund and at an interest rate of seven percent for three years.
Since 2010, dairy farmers have imported 4 000 heifers in an effort to increase milk production through enhanced breeding and multiplication of dairy herd artificial insemination techniques.
Zimbabwe’s national herd has grown steadily from 5 000 in 2008 to more than 26 000 animals in 2015.
The industry is still rebuilding and players say they still need Government support and protection from foreign competitors.
“We are producing about five million litres of milk against a demand of 8 million litres. We have got the capacity to increase our production and we are targeting to increase our output to some 77 million litres of milk by 2018,” said Mr Daryl Archibald, an official of Dendairy, a Kwekwe-based dairy producer.
“If we grow at current levels, we will be self-sufficient by 2018. We are quite optimistic about that.”
Zimbabwe has a processing capacity of 400 million litres a year but is currently operating at 40 percent capacity owing largely to high production costs, low cow herd, lack of equipment and poor adoption of modern breeding technologies among other issues.
The country’s annual milk production increased from 150 million litres in 1980 to peak at 256 million litres in 1990 before it plunged to around 55 million litres by 2013.
Its dairy herd declined from about 122 000 in 1990 (with an output of 250 million litres a year) to only 26 000 in 2015, but the Dairy Revitalisation Programme has set the country firmly on a recovery path.
Zimbabwe, which has a national herd of some 5,3 million, imports 60 percent of its milk from South Africa.
Stakeholders in the dairy sector say the adoption of various technologies aimed at enhancing milk production, processing as well as the modern retailing processes is needed to rebuild the sector.
They say the adoption of modern technology at all levels will enhance production and enable Zimbabwe meet the ever growing demand for milk products across the country as well as in the Sadc region.
Zimbabwe’s dairy industry has been one of the most bullish in terms of gearing up for the opportunities arising from import restrictions for dairy and milk products.
In the 1980s and 1990s, small-holder farmers used to play a pivotal role in supplying milk to the then Dairy Marketing Board (DMB).
Their role has diminished over the years due to poor access to new technology, lack of enabling policy environment, poor funding and dwindling donor support. However, with the Dairy Revitalisation Programme, Zimbandu said, small-scale dairy farmers are a priority and efforts are being intensified to empower them to improve their output.
The Midlands Province is the country’s largest milk producer accounting for 24 percent of the national milk output.
Manicaland contributes 17 percent while Mashonaland Central, West and Masvingo provinces have a combined output of 49 percent with Matabeleland North and South provinces producing 10 percent.
The Government and stakeholders in the dairy sector plan to set up a calf rearing and breeding centres in Kwekwe and another one in Chipinge to reduce imports of heifers and cows from neighbouring South Africa which was eating into the country’s scarce foreign currency reserves.
The centres are expected to be manned by experts from the Department of Veterinary Services and Department of Livestock Production and Development.
Milk production in southern Africa rose to 3,3 billion litres in 2015 with an estimated value of nearly $1,4 billion (using average wholesale price of $0.43 per litre) amid growing concern about the influx of imported dairy products which are hurting local business.
Figures gleaned from media reports, journals, UN agency reports and various milk producers association updates in 10 Sadc member states all indicate that although milk production has been increasing over the years, demand has also increased and the gap between these two is widening up within the Sadc region.
Dairy industry analysts say due to population growth and increase in per capita consumption, demand for milk is expected to increase, even more, in the future years in the entire southern Africa region.
The bulk of the 3,3 billion litre figure for Sadc comes from South Africa, the region and the continent’s biggest economy.
Figures from Milk SA show that unprocessed milk from producers rose 5,5 percent to 3,1 billion litres in 2015 from a year earlier.
In South Africa, some 600 000 dairy cows produce more than 3 billion litres of milk which is consumed locally while the other significant portion is exported.
Figures from other Sadc countries show that Zambia produced 75 million litres, Zimbabwe (57,5 million litres), Swaziland (8,4 million), Tanzania (50 million), Namibia (23 million), Botswana (4 million), Mauritius (6,5 million), Mozambique (2,1 million) and Madagascar (530 000). The total figure excludes Angola, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi and Seychelles.
In the last three decades, world milk production has increased by more than 50 percent, from 482 million tonnes in 1982 to 802 million tonnes in 2014.
Total cow milk production in Africa was 21 million tonnes in 2014, produced from a total of 46 million dairy cows giving an average milk yield of 461kg milk per cow over the year, which is only one fifth of world average yield, according to the UN FAO figures.
The top five African milk producing countries in terms of milk volume are Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Algeria. — Zimpapers Syndication Service
A staffer at Alpha Omega Dairy packs yoghurt at the company’s premises in this file photo