The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
The country’s milk production is set to improve after Government, in partnership with We Effect Zimbabwe and other partners, recently launched a four-year dairy project worth about US$8 million.
The project is expected to increase the country’s annual milk output from 75 million litres to 120 million litres.
The scheme will benefit 4 000 small-scale farmers and is part of a US$45 million European Union funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP).
Dubbed ‘Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future’, the project will commercialise smallholder farmers in 33 districts by promoting the adoption of good agricultural production, marketing and nutritional practices.
Zimbabwe used to be the region’s dairy powerhouse, with a herd of 123 000 dairy cows producing more than 260 million litres of milk per year.
However, production has declined over the years due to a plethora of challenges, leaving Zimbabwe with only 38 000 dairy cows and a milk deficit of 45 million litres.
Speaking during the launch of the dairy project in Nyanga recently, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Cde Perrance Shiri said the project complements current efforts to revitalise the dairy sector.
“I believe this launch has been organised at the right time. Government is pursuing a number of initiatives in the dairy sector to improve milk quantity and quality in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“It is important to critically analyse dairy production and the constraints being encountered in order to devise practical strategies to alleviate the problems and improve dairy production in Zimbabwe.”
Inadequate supply of feedstuffs, diseases and the low adoption of modern technology are some of the adversities weighing down smallholder dairy farming.
To mitigate these challenges, Minister Shiri said the Government has come up with various dairy revitalisation programmes, including ZAGP.
The interventions involve greater use of technologies to raise milk yields, funding and credit products for smallholder dairy farmers.
We Effect country representative Goran Forssen said the project intends to restore the dairy sector to its former glory.
“The project is targeting to increase Zimbabwe’s milk production from a current level of 75 million litres per year to 120 million litres. lt also seeks to increase the participation of small-scale farmers in the dairy value chain, especially women and the youth,” he said.
Project coordinator Dr Edson Chifamba said the project recently concluded a national milk mapping exercise, which will guide implementation.
“As a result of the mapping exercise, we now know the traditional milk areas in Zimbabwe and we have identified at least 33 districts where the project will be implemented,” he said.
“The areas with the highest milk densities include Umguza, Kwekwe, Marondera and Groromonzi.”
The project’s target districts were identified through milk densities, dairy cow numbers and distribution, biophysical characteristics and dairy infrastructure.
Dairy farming immensely contributes to the country’s economy. It is also critical in terms of the nation’s nutritional needs.
Milk is one of the products targeted under Government’s import substitution programmes.
Three hundred people attended the launch, including dairy farmers, farmers’ associations, Government officials and the private sector.
Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) and Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT) were among the associations represented.