ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT) has revealed that milk imports in the year 2017 have declined significantly to US$7 million per month compared to US$22 million spend on importing milk and milk products in 2014 per month.

This was attributed to numerous investments in the dairy sector both at the farm and processing level, resulting in improved production of milk.

In addition to efforts by the government to increase capacity, implementation of the Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 has played a critical role in limiting consumer spending on imports.

As a result of pressure on foreign currency balances, the SI64 was rebranded in 2016 requiring traders to obtain an import licence before importing basic commodities such as coffee creamers, bottled water, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and milk products.

Addressing the 5th Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers annual general meeting, ZDIT Chairman Theodora Marimo said investments made across the dairy value chain had seen exports of milk products increase from 82, 097 in 2014 to 392, 997 in 2017.

“In 2014 the country was spending $22 million per month to import powdered milk and other milk-related products but this has since come down to $7 million,” she said.

“Various interventions have seen a steady growth in milk production from a low of 37 million litres in 2014 to 68 million litres in 2017.

“Average annual growth is 10% and still falls far short of demand.”

Farm level improvements included importation of 400 calf heifers from South Africa in September 2016 plus some others done this year.

Also, individual farmers have also been importing dairy animals and semen while big corporates such as Dairibord and Nestle have also played a role in bringing in dairy animals.

According to her, the sector received US$32 million in investments that is upgrading equipment and machinery and through new players since September 2015.

Zimbabwe has seven large processors and 28 small processors in the dairy sector.