DAIRY farmers are set to import about 5 000 heifers to boost milk production in the country after the national herd was decimated by disease outbreaks and farm upheavals following the government’s land redistribution programme, an industry official has said.
The Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) national chairman Craig Follwell told Southern Eye Business that the country’s national dairy herd had declined to 28 000 over the years and the importation of heifers would boost the numbers.
“We are looking forward to boosting the dairy industry by importing about 5 000 heifers over a period of three years,” he said.
“The industry is capital intensive, so we need a lot of capital, but it should be cheap finance that can be payable over a five-year period with a maximum interest rate of 5%.”
Follwell said in 2014, dairy farmers produced about 55,5 million litres of milk, an increase of 1,55% to what was produced in 2013.
This year, the association is targeting an increase of 0,5%.
He said the association currently produced about 4 500ltr of milk per month, adding that the industry suffered from imminent power outages as well as high production costs.
In 2014, ZADF signed a three-year partnership with We Effect (formerly Swedish Co-operative Centre) to enable local dairy farmers to continue improving their capacity to provide services to their members.
Last year, dairy farmers appealed to the government to ban foreign dairy products from flooding the local market and start supporting the local sector to boost production.
Zimbabwe imports 60% of its milk from neighbouring South Africa.