Funding woes hamper milk production

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Milk production went up by 13% in 2016.

Lack of funding has hit milk production in the country despite a supply improvement, businessdigest has learnt.

Kudzai Kuwaza

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%.

However, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers chairman Emmanuel Zimbandu told businessdigest this week that an acute lack of funding had resulted in dairy farmers producing much less than they can potentially produce.

“Milk production is beginning to pick up, but production is still a challenge,” said Zimbandu.

“Dairy farmers cannot access loans from financial institutions because of the high interest rates which are unaffordable. This means we cannot afford to buy tractors, haybalers and other equipment needed for milk production.”

He said with the availability of funding, dairy farmers could produce way above the annual national requirement of 120 million litres.

“With the right funding, we could even start exporting milk to other countries,” Zimbandu said.

He said the cows which have been imported to boost milk production had not produced as much as expected in the first year. This, Zimbandu attributed to the cows acclamatising to their new environment.

“We are confident that as the cows go for their second lactation they will produce more milk,” Zimbandu said.

According to the first quarter Treasury report, milk production in the first three months of 2017 stood at 15,6 million litres, which is a decline from the 15,9 million litres recorded during the same period last year.

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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