ZIMBABWE –  Dairy products imports in Zimbabwe have dropped by 20% to US$11.8 million from January to June this year against last year’s US$14.8 million during the corresponding time period, bearing fruits to the Government policy of import substitution through local production.

According to statistics from Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, in volume terms, dairy products plunged by 20%  from 3 624 466 kilogrammes to 2 910 253 kg.

“This dip comes on the backdrop of similar trends experienced last year when dairy product imports fell 16% to US$31 million from January to December in comparison to US$37 million in 2021,” the report showed.

“Over the same period, the volume of dairy product imports fell by 14%  to 9 million from 10 million.”

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries¸ Water and Rural Development permanent secretary, Dr John Basera, recently attributed the rise in dairy production to the Government’s synergies with the private sector and development partners.

“The interventions are part of the country’s Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan including the Government’s private sector-funded dairy heifer programme with a deliberate effort on increasing the national cows in milk from 19 000 in 2021 to 29 000 in 2022,” he said.

Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) administrator Dr Reneth Mano recently said the Government’s four-year reduction on powdered milk imports was to be commended, as it capacitated local milk production.

“Government’s move to reduce on a sliding scale milk products imports will go a long way in capacitating local producers as well as depriving regional exporters of a ready market for dumping cheap milk products,” he said.

 Mindful of the need to revitalise the local dairy industry, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube introduced a 5% levy on the value of imported dairy products to recapitalise the Dairy Revitalisation Fund (DRF) in the 2022 budget.

The DRF was targeted at the growth and development of the dairy sector by increasing the national dairy herd, enhancing the competitiveness of the dairy sector, and supporting the modernisation and standardisation of local milk production.

According to Prof Ncube, the funds would be disbursed from the consolidated revenue fund (CRF) to smallholder farmers at a concessionary interest rate, in order to ensure the sustainability of the fund, as well as optimising growth of the sector. For guaranteed growth of the sector, a minimum of 80% of the funds would be utilised towards procurement of the dairy herd.

Among the dairy products imported by the country are various forms of milk and cream, yoghurt, buttermilk, ice cream, whey, butter and different kinds of cheese.

Raw milk production increased 6% to 45 million litres from January to June this year against last year’s 42 million over the same period.

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