By Alois Vinga
A European Union (EU) funded livestock project has contributed to increased milk productivity by a total of 1,2 million litres inside four months, latest data from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has revealed.
The central bank data shows that quarterly fresh milk output progressively increased from the low first quarter of 2021 outturn of 17,83 million litres, to 22 million litres in the fourth quarter.
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, milk output increased by 5,8%, from 20,8 million litres in quarter three of 2021, to 22 million litres in quarter four.
“The increase in dairy herd size, following the ongoing heifer importation programme, also contributed to an increase in fresh milk output in 2021.
“The programme is being conducted under the EU funded ZAGP’s Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future TransZDVC project,” said the central bank.
Under ZAGP, the TransZDVC for the future was allocated seven million Euros to address the root causes of underperformance in the Dairy Value Chain (DVC) in Zimbabwe by strengthening the linkages between production, processing and financing
At its peak in 1990, Zimbabwe produced 260 million litres and reached a low of less than 40 million litres in 2008.
Since then, output has steadily grown to 80m litres recorded last year against annual demand pegged at 130m litres.
Currently, Zimbabwe’s dairy herd stands at 39 000, with 28 000 pure breed and 11 000 cross breed, which is a far cry from 192 000 dairy herd at the peak of production.
The cost of dairy stock feeds remains a major impediment for most farmers as it constitutes 76% of costs.
The collapse of Milk Collection Centres (MCCs) and little knowledge about dairy farming in the country also poses challenges for aspiring small holder farmers.
Market data shows that milk consumption per capita in Zimbabwe is still very low and is estimated to be between seven to eight litres per person per annum, indicative of the potential the industry has if compared with other regional countries like Botswana and South Africa who consume between 37 and 79 litres per person per annum.