Govt thumbs up dairy sec­tor

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Elita Chik­wati Harare Bureau

THE Gov­ern­ment has com­mended the dairy sec­tor for show­ing dy­namism and in­no­va­tive­ness in the face of eco­nomic chal­lenges and the El Nino-in­duced drought that has caused food short­ages.

The sec­tor recorded a pos­i­tive growth of 18 per­cent and has in­creased milk pro­duc­tion from 35 mil­lion litres to 55 mil­lion from 2009 to 2013. Milk pro­duc­ers are tar­get­ing pro­duc­tion to rise to 110 mil­lion litres by 2020. Zim­babwe needs 120 mil­lion litres an­nu­ally.

On Thurs­day, 400 heifers worth more than $540 000 im­ported un­der the Dairy Re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme were handed over to 96 farm­ers across the coun­try. The project is be­ing spear­headed by the Zim­babwe Dairy In­dus­try Trust.

The fund was ini­ti­ated by the Gov­ern­ment, the Zim­babwe As­so­ci­a­tion of Dairy Farm­ers Trust (ZADF) and other stake­hold­ers in the dairy in­dus­try in 2014 af­ter the par­ties agreed to charge 10 cents per ev­ery packet of milk im­ported.

Speak­ing at the han­dover cer­e­mony at Grass­lands Re­search In­sti­tute in Maron­dera, Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Joseph Made said since 2014 when the dairy re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme started, there had been a de­cline in im­ported fin­ished dairy prod­ucts, re­duc­ing the im­port bill.

“Farmer in­vest­ment in growth of na­tional herd saw the im­por­ta­tion of 4 400 heifers as from 2010 to date, bring­ing the na­tional herd to 33 000 cows. New pro­ces­sors have gone into the dairy in­dus­try and in­vested about $21, 9 mil­lion in new mod­ern ma­chin­ery ca­pa­ble of pro du c i n g world class prod­uct s ,” he said.

Min­is­ter Made said the Gov­ern­ment would con­tinue sup­port­ing the sec­tor and was open to new ideas and sug­ges­tions from stake­hold­ers.

“To­day we show­case the suc­cess of a well mean­ing in­dus­try and a well mean­ing Gov­ern­ment with unity of pur­pose com­ing to­gether to put in place a Pub­lic – Pri­vate - Part­ner­ship for eco­nomic re­cov­ery. This growth coali­tion be­tween Gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor was ini­ti­ated af­ter a re­al­i­sa­tion that the dairy in­dus­try was in de­cline and was fail­ing to com­pete with im­ported milk prod­ucts.

“I am aware there are many chal­lenges fac­ing the agri­cul­ture sec­tor but the dairy in­dus­try ini­tia­tives bear tes­ti­mony to a pos­i­tive ap­proach in the face of chal­lenges and not blam­ing Gov­ern­ment or look­ing for some other peo­ple to find so­lu­tions,” he said.

Depart­ment of Live­stock and Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices Prin­ci­pal Direc­tor Dr Unesu Ushe­wokunze - Oba­tolu en­cour­aged farm­ers to take dairy as a busi­ness to make mean­ing­ful prof­its.

“All farm­ers should be busi­ness peo­ple. You should pro­duce milk to im­prove liveli­hoods and con­trib­ute to­wards the econ­omy,” she said.

Zim­babwe As­so­ci­a­tion of Dairy Farm­ers chair­man Mr Em­manuel Zim­bandu be­moaned high costs of pro­duc­tion and lack of se­cu­rity of ten­ure. “Gov­ern­ment should en­cour­age lo­cal pro­duc­tion of raw ma­te­ri­als re­quired for stock­feeds manu f a c tu r i ng . We need bank­able se­cu­rity which can as­sist us in ac­cess­ing fund­ing,” he said.

Min­is­ter Joseph Made

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