Govt thumbs up dairy sector
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