Zim’s dairy in­dus­try poised for fur­ther growth

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Fea­ture Sife­lani Tsiko

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

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