Heavy rains hamper milk production

THE heavy rains experienced countrywide this season saw milk production plunging in February, businessdigest has established.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

According to statistics availed by the Dairy Services Unit in the department of Livestock and Veterinary Services, milk production fell to 4,395 million litres in February from 5,538 million in January.

The February milk production level saw a 12,77% drop compared to the same period last year when 5,038 million litres of milk were produced.

There was also a drop in the milk retailed during the same period with 532,075 litres retailed compared to 577,754 litres of milk sold in January. The milk sold is a 15,40% slump compared to the same period last year when 628,914 litres of milk were sold.

Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers chairman Emmanuel Zimbandu told businessdigest on Tuesday the rains that pounded most parts of the country led to the slump in milk production in February.

“The reason for the reduction in February was because we experienced a lot of rain which affected the dairy cows,” Zimbandu said. “The heavy rains disrupted the dipping process for dairy cows which resulted in the animals contracting tick-borne diseases. This has led to a drop in milk production.”

Zimbandu expressed optimism, however, that milk production will increase with the ending of the rainy season.

“On a brighter note, we are expecting better production figures in March and especially in April,” Zimbandu said.

Milk production increased by 13% to 65 million litres last year compared to 58 million litres recorded in the prior year due to import restrictions and a dairy revitalisation project.

According to the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust, the 13% increase in milk production was in line with the target annual growth of 12%.

Milk production levels have dramatically plummeted from the early 1990s peak of 260 million litres per year to between 50 million and 65 million litres currently, as the industry struggles to recover from the devastating impact of the chaotic land reform programme and economic turmoil.

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