ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s milk production has surged by 5.9 percent in the first seven months of 2023, following successful public-private partnerships, according to official data released by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development’s dairy services department.
The rise in milk production, which has reached 54 million liters during this period, signifies a remarkable improvement from 51.2 million liters during the same period in the previous year.
Milk intake by processors also saw an impressive increase of 8 percent in the first four months of 2023, rising to 49.7 million liters from 46 million liters. However, retail milk production witnessed a decline of 11.76 percent, dropping from 5.1 million liters in the same period last year to 4.5 million liters.
The average milk production during this period was approximately 7.71 million liters, surpassing the 7.39 million liters produced in the same timeframe the previous year. In addition, imports of milk powder fell from 8.9 million kg to 7.4 million kg over the same period.
With the current growth rate in milk production, experts suggested that Zimbabwe may surpass its national milk target of 150 million liters by 2025, leaving the country with a surplus of 20 million liters, considering the current annual requirement of 130 million liters.
Ernest Muzorewa, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), anticipated that Zimbabwe’s milk production will increase to 108 million liters in 2023, up from 91 million liters in 2022.
He explained that dairy processors source milk from farmers and import milk powders due to an insufficient supply of raw milk.
Dr. John Basera, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, attributed the growth in milk production to the collaboration between the government and the private sector.
“The interventions are part of the country’s Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan, with a deliberate effort to increase the national dairy herd from 19,000 in 2021 to 29,000 in 2022, including the government’s private sector-funded dairy heifer program,” he stated.
Despite these successes, Mr. Muzorewa highlighted several challenges affecting the dairy sector’s growth, viability, and competitiveness, such as low productivity, a limited number of dairy animals, and weak genetics in the dairy herd.
Other obstacles included high production and processing costs, limited access to affordable finance and foreign currency, high compliance costs, and the adverse effects of climate change.
Mr. Muzorewa emphasized the need for modernization in the dairy sector, advocating for the adoption of the latest technologies and management systems that could increase both volume and quality of milk production.
The sector’s efficiency and competitiveness are essential for sustaining this promising growth trajectory in Zimbabwe’s milk production.