ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe is set to partner investors in the private sector to facilitate implementation of a comprehensive strategy that seeks to boost milk production in the country.

The move is part of the government’s intervention to progressively reduce the 44.6 million litres milk supply deficit depicted in the country’s production of 75.4 million litres against 120 million litres demand as of 2018.

Speaking at a recently held event organise by the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers, Vangelis Haritatos, deputy minister of agriculture, said that the government has identified public-private partnerships as a key strategy for the recovery of the industry.

Haritatos pointed out that integration of the milk production value chain through provision of business support services and markets by the private sector was key in increasing production.

“We are adopting three strategies namely increasing the number of dairy cows, improving the genetics quality of the dairy herd and developing breeds that are suitable for small scale farmers,” he said.

The government through the partnership seeks to increase dairy cows by around 30 000 by 2022 through distributing at least 1 000 calf dairy heifers to small holder farmers on a revolving basis.

Mr Kudzi Chirima, chairman Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers, however highlights lack of funding of the dairy farming sector as a major challenge impending productivity.

EU in project to boost sector

This comes as the European Union is also supporting a four-year equipment and infrastructure initiative targeting dairy farmers under the Zimbabwe Agriculture Growth programme through a US$2.38 million investment.

According to a Herald report, the four-year EU-funded programme targets training of dairy farmers and support grants for infrastructure and herd growth, said Dr Edson Chifamba, the project coordinator.

At least US$900,000 will be channelled to large-scale farmers who are expected to provide 50% of the project requirements while a grant of similar value is to extended to the farmer.

Additionally, US$390 000 will be used to facilitate milk collection centres infrastructure at a 70% funding while small-scale processors will finance the remaining capital for the project.

A further US$1.13 million will be made available to small-scale dairy farmers for the purchase of equipment to be financed by both farmers and the programme.

Private invetsors such as Nestle Zimbabwe, Dendairy, ProBrands and Dairibord among other dairy processing firms have in the past supported smallholder farmers through various intiative aimed at increaeing production.

Nestle Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ben Ndiyaye whose company is partnering hundreds of dairy farmers in some regions said the model developed by the government is an example of community development which creates shared values.

“We have to create value for our stakeholders for Nestle to remain viable. This is an inspirational model,” he said.