ZIMBABWE Zimbabwe’s raw milk production for the five months to May 2015 marginally rose 2,2 percent from 22,2 million litres to 22,7 million litres despite operating environment constrains, according to latest statistics from the Agriculture ministry.

Figures released by the ministry’s dairy services department indicate that the country is beginning to realise benefits from government’s 25 percent levy on all diary imports as well as surging demand.

“Production has been gradually rising over the past year as processors like Dairibord, Nestle and Dendairy rolled out heifer importation schemes, a move that has seen a significant increase in the dairy sector’s capacity and output,” the department said.

The local dairy industry is currently producing an average of five million litres of milk per month against a monthly demand of 10 million litres, with the balance being compensated for by imports.

According to the statistics, a 30 percent increase in the amount of milk retailed by producers was recorded at 2,8 million litres from the 2,3 million litres recorded prior year comparative, while the total intake of milk by processors remained static at 19,9 million litres.

However, on a month on month basis, production for May was 4,1 percent up at 4,76 million litres compared to 4,57 million litres produced in April.

This comes as Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (Zadf) says government’s 25 percent levy on all imported dairy products was also beginning to bear fruit as the market has eased from unfair competition posed by cheap imports.

Locally produced dairy products were previously disadvantaged in the market by their higher price compared to the imports, but Zadf said government’s move had stimulated the sector’s performance.

The statistics also show that the national dairy head which stood at 122 000 cows in 1990 has declined to about 22 000 by 2011, resulting in low milk production which prompted imports.

The local industry, currently operating at 45 percent capacity — with an estimated 223 registered dairy operators and a herd of about 26 000 animals has left producers struggling to meet national demand of 120 million litres per annum.

In 1990, the country was producing over 256 million litres and exporting into the region and beyond before plummeting to an all-time low of 36 million litres in 2009 as the economic environment deteriorated.

Production has since improved marginally to approximately 55,5 million litres in 2014.

In 2014 Zimbabwe’s annual raw milk production increased 1,5 percent compared to 2013 mainly due to increased availability of inputs locally.

During the period under review, 55,5 million litres of milk were produced compared to 54,7 million litres produced the previous year.

June 25, 2015; http://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2015/06/25/zim-milk-output-marginally-up