RAW milk production in Zimbabwe marginally improved by 0,45% in the first six months of this year to 26 490 619 litres as local dairy farmers ramped up operations during the period under review in a bid to drive growth in the sector.
According to the statistics released on Friday by the Dairy Services Department in the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development ministry, raw milk production totalled 26 490 619 litres in the first half of this year, up from 26 371 427 litres recorded in the same period the previous year.
In the period under review milk processing companies like Nestlé Zimbabwe and Dairibord Holdings Limited funded large-scale dairy farming projects including heifer rearing in partnership with small-scale farmers which partly resulted in the marginal improvement in production.
Dairibord embarked on a milk supply development programme which started in the fourth quarter of 2011. The company imported 250 heifers which were allocated to selected farmers across the provinces as part of efforts to revive the ailing dairy sector.
Swiss controlled multinational corporation Nestlé Zimbabwe this year invested $14 million to import 2 000 heifers which were distributed to raw milk producers association members in various parts of the country.
There is currently an estimated 223 registered dairy operators in the country and a dairy herd of about 26 000 animals.
The country’s dairy sector is, however, still on the rebound. Milk production plummeted in the decade ending 2009 to one million litres per month attributed to high production costs sparked by hyper-inflationary conditions that prevailed in the country during the period. This translated to production volumes of 12 million litres per year.
This year milk output is expected to improve to 70 million litres from last year’s 55 929 694, although the figure still falls far short of the national demand of 120 million litres per annum as the agriculture sector continues on a down path. The country remains a net importer of milk to cover for the deficit in meeting local consumer demand.
At its peak in 1999, Zimbabwe produced over 150 million litres of milk annually and was exporting into the region and beyond.
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