The Sunday Mail
Kudzanai Sharara recently in Nyanga
The dairy industry is targeting to double the national milk production by 2022 as it positions itself to meet the local demand and export into the region by 2030.
In 2017, the national dairy production was 67 million litres against a national demand of 120 million litres.
Speaking at the 5th Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) annual general meeting in Nyanga last week, ZADF chairman Emmanuel Zimbandu said the dairy industry is implementing a strategic plan to close the supply gap.
Currently, the country is spending US$7 million monthly to import milk powder and other finished milk based products such as cheese, although the amount has since come down from the US$22 million that was required in 2014.
“Our focus remains to double national milk production at the right quality and at the right price,” said Mr Zimbandu, adding that the industry has been growing milk supply by 10 percent in the last couple of years although costs of production are still high at US60 cents per litre against US40 cents in South Africa.
“As the dairy industry, we are positioning ourselves to meet the local demand and even export by 2030.
“This year, the theme is “Moving Dairy Towards Better Standards by 2030” in alignment with President Mnangagwa’s vision of turning the country into a middle income country status by 2030,” he said.
Mr Zimbandu said dairy farmers acknowledge the Government’s efforts in protecting them.
He however said dairy farmers are facing many challenges that have seen the costs of production going up, thereby threatening viability.
“As dairy farmers, we are facing constraints inhibiting the growth of the milk production at the desired rate. There is lack of investment confidence at farm level due to the security of tenure – we acknowledge Government efforts in land audits and lease applications but request that the issuing of 99-year leases be expedited. The 99-year leases must also be bankable and transferable,” Mr Zimbandu said.
He also said land levies should not be uniform countrywide as farming activities are different in the various agricultural regions.
He also bemoaned the issue of high interest rates and lack of access to the long-term loans that are required in dairy production.
He said banks should offer dairy favourable loans. Mr Zimbandu said the biggest dairy cost drive is stock feed, which accounts for 60-70 percent of milk production costs.
He said dairy farmers appreciates Command Agriculture, which has stimulated cereal production.
“We commend Government for the Command Livestock programme which has since been rolled out in the beef sector. We as dairy farmers in conjunction with Veterinary Services seek the possibilities of getting dairy embryos and use the beef as the surrogate mothers. That way, our dairy herd will be increased at a faster rate and the country will save foreign currency on the importation of dairy heifers.
“We however request that dairy farmers under Command Agriculture be allowed to use part of the harvest for silage and deliver a tonnage below the required 5 tonnes per hectare.
“The dairy sector must also be considered separately for machinery like centre pivots, tractors, hay balers, silage cutters and feed mixers.
“These will have a major impact in reducing the milk production costs and increase productivity.”
Mr Zimbandu also spoke of the price distortions currently prevailing in the market.
“Dairy farmers are experiencing price distortions and this is further eroding the dairy viability in the input market. Most of the dairy farming requirements like vaccines, cleaning detergents, semen, artificial insemination equipment and milking machine spares are imported. The foreign currency shortages are making it difficult.”
ZADF chief executive officer Ms Paidamoyo Chadoka said the AGM was an opportunity for dairy farmers to meet and advocate for a more conducive farming environment.