Zim milk output improves

ZIMBABWE’S average milk output surged 17,6 percent in January to 5,5 million litres from 4,6 million litres recorded in the same period last year, official data shows.

Data from the Dairy Services Department in the Agriculture ministry shows that despite a slump recorded in November last year, raw milk output has been on an upward trajectory since May 2015.

Raw milk intake by processors in January was 17,3 percent up from January 2015 at 4,8 million litres while milk retailed by producers was 20 percent up at 642 632 litres.

The government department attributed the improvement to contributions from various dairy heifer schemes to the national output.

Milk and dairy products producers have over the past two years been running dairy heifer importation schemes to boost milk production.

These include Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, Nestle Zimbabwe, Dendairy, Alpha and Omega among others.
Zimbabwe’s dairy industry is currently operating below 45 percent of capacity which has negatively impacted on the ability of milk processing firms to meet the national demand.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last year announced that milk output averaged 5 million litres per month in the three months to September 2015, compared to 4,8 million per month in the second quarter of the same year.

The apex bank, however, noted that output continues to fall short of the national requirement of 12 million litres a month by about 60 percent.

According to East and Southern Africa Dairy Association (Esada) the country has a processing capacity in excess of 400 million litres.

The bloc says the country has potential to increase milk production to 120-140 million litres annually, with the region presenting an opportunity for exporting an additional 2 million litres per month.

“This can be achieved provided a comprehensive national milk production programme is put in place,” Esada said in a report.
Potential export markets include Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania who are all members of the grouping.

Esada said Zimbabwe has seven major processing companies and more than 20 smaller players, including producer-retailers who supply to an established processor as well as process part of their output.

Esada says Zimbabwe has an estimated demand of 240 million litres per annum which far exceeds the current supply of just over 50 million litres.

Milk production, along with other agriculture sub-sectors, declined sharply following President Robert Mugabe’s land redistribution programme. At its peak, the country produced over 150 million litres of milk annually. —BUSINESS WRITER

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