Augustine Mukaro/Eric Chiriga
DESPITE government claims that its land reform programme is a “resounding success”, the country is having to import milk to augment declining local supplies.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that Zimbabwe has been forced to source milk from New Zealand, Denmark, Argentina and several other countries. Sources said the milk was being imported through commodity broking agencies based in the United Kingdom and Denmark. One of the agencies is said to be London & General, based in the UK.
This follows revelations by dairy farmers that raw milk supplies to the market have declined by over six million litres over the past year.
Information from Zimtrade confirms that the country has been importing milk although it doesn’t specify whether it was companies or individuals making the imports.
Zimtrade figures show that last year Zimbabwe imported a total of 6 401 507 litres of raw milk.
Of the imported milk, Botswana supplied 4 278 043 litres, New Zealand 89 418, Denmark 100 000 and Argentina 50 590.
The rest of the milk came from other countries.
Dairibord Zimbabwe public relations manager, Emelda Shoko, said her organisation was not importing milk except for very limited quantities of powder.
“Importation of powders has always been done to augment local shortfalls in years of drought,” Shoko said.
“Like any other business operating in a challenging economy, there has been a decline in milk supplies due to escalating costs and a shortage of stockfeeds. This was exacerbated by the recent drought that we experienced,” she said.
“Currently volumes are about 22% down compared to last year, while last year’s volumes were 31% down when compared with 2002,” she said.
Milk production has fallen by over 52% since the inception of the land reform programme. Production fell from 18,7 million to the current under 9 million litres over the past four years.
This decline in the dairy industry is largely due to the land reform programme which has seen producers being forced to vacate their properties and close down their operations.
Over the past four years government has been issuing eviction notices to white commercial farmers eroding confidence and discouraging new investment. The uncertainty forced producers to slaughter their dairy cows.
The farmers who took over from former white commercial farmers are failing to bridge the production gap.