Dairy industry imports 4 000 heifers
PLAYERS in the country’s dairy industry have imported about 4 000 heifers since 2010 as the industry targets to produce 100 million litres of milk annually by 2019, up from the current 58 million per annum.
The industry has been struggling over the years, with milk production declining, from 200 million litres per year in the mid- 1990s to 37 million litres in 2009, while the dairy herd has declined from 190 000 in 1996 to about 26 000 last year.
In his presentation at the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers Union annual general meeting, Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust chairperson, Tatenda Napata said: “Significant investments have been made in the installation of modern processing equipment and machinery. In fact new processors have entered the dairy sector and during the period 2014 to 2016 about US$21,9 million was invested in new and modern processing plants.”
Indications are that this year, production will increase by eight percent, from the 58 million litres produced last year.
He said while production was still short of the national requirement which is currently estimated at 120 million litres annually, the industry was confident that with the full implementation of the dairy revitalisation strategy, the industry would meet its target output.
The cost of production is one of the biggest challenges facing the dairy sector as the cost of feed and the unavailability of long term funding from financial institutions is affecting the sector’s competitiveness.
The dairy revitalisation strategy aims to address some of these challenges through self-funding of industry programmes.
“A dairy revitalisation fund has been set up in order to finance initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable local milk production. Besides financing the importation of dairy heifers to increase local production, the industry has also set its goals on training and development of dairy farmers on low cost techniques.
“The goal is to reduce on farm production costs by five to eight percent per year and this should also translate to a reduction in milk producer price to a target of US$0,46 by 2019,” Napata said.
Zimbabwe has the highest producer price for raw milk in the world at between US$0,55-59 a litre againstUS$0,35-39 a litre in South Africa,US$0,18-20 a litre in Uganda, US$0,28 in Kenya, US$0,22 in the USA and US$0,14-21 in New Zealand.
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