In Zimbabwe, the dairy sector experienced an annual milk production decrease from an all-time peak of 260 million litres in 1990, to less than 35 million litres in 2008. During the peak periods, Zimbabwe exported an excess of 100 million litres annually and several Zimbabwean companies purchased other milk producing companies regionally. Figure 1 below summarises the annual milk production trends in Zimbabwe from 1990 to 2017. The positive economic policies introduced in February 2009 saw a recovery in many sectors of the Zimbabwean economy. Milk production also increased to the current 67 million litres annually from a herd size of 14 000 milking cows. This, however, falls well below the 120 million litres demanded annually. Zimbabwe is therefore currently importing approximately 48% (about 57 million litres) of its annual milk requirements. Low milk production is resulting in a deficit being offset by imports. The decline in the production of milk has forced the country to import milk from neighbouring countries, especially South Africa and Zambia, to meet local consumption and production demand.
The development of the dairy sector requires the following issues below to be addressed, in order to double milk supply in order to meet local demand and to address issues of sustainability going forward:
1. Increasing herd size by developing local breeders, importing seed animals for breeders and importing calves for inter stem farmers
2. Improving genetics by importing good quality semen, developing semen banks at strategic areas
accessible to farmers at affordable cost
3. Implementation of new farming strategies and improved farm efficiencies to address the low level of productivity at farm level through enhancing the extension support services that address the good
practices of animal husbandry, nutrition and disease control
4. Implementation of more efficient production systems to reduce the high costs production and the high milk price currently being paid by the processors. Locally, the costs of production and milk prices are uncompetitive compared to region. There is need to increase on-farm feed production and also to reduce the stockfeed production cost, pricing of maize, soya and cotton seed. Local crop production should continue to increase through Command Agriculture; increase farm mechanisation and adopt latest technologies
5. Dairy support promoting the ease of doing business through an enabling policy framework and
regulatory environment. This includes the issue of land tenure security to build investment confidence
6. Access to affordable finance with a long term tenure
7. Improved support services such as laboratory and veterinary services
8. Inclusive dairy farming of new farmers, youth and women.