Article by: Julie Havercroft
Dairy farmers in Zimbabwe are working towards the goal of doubling milk production by 2022, but at the right price and quality.
Addressing industry players at the annual general meeting of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers’ (ZADF), immediate past chairman, Emmanuel Zimbandu, said local production for 2017 was 67 million litres, and the national demand was above 120 million litres. The gap between production and demand was the focus of the chairman’s speech.
“Dairy farmers are experiencing price distortions eroding the dairy viability in the inputs market, for example vaccines, cleaning detergents, semen, artificial insemination equipment, milking machines spares and stockfeed raw materials due to the foreign currency shortage as most dairy requirements are imported”.
Zimbandu listed constraints that face the industry and affect the growth of milk production at the desired rate and these include:
– Lack of investment confidence at farm level due to security of tenure. Zimbandu requested issuing of 99-year leases to be expedited, and to be bankable and transferable.
– Challenges in accessing long term loans with reasonable interest rates that are required in dairy production. Stockfeed as a major cost driver, accounting for 60-70% of costs.
– Lack of foreign exchange at preferential rates for machinery such as hay balers, feed mixers and silage cutters. These implements would have a major impact in reducing production costs and increasing productivity.
However, Zimbandu did give credit where due. “We appreciate that electrical supply has improved at farms as milk is a highly perishable product and the importance of availability of electricity to milk cows and cool the milk cannot be overemphasised. Shortages still impact dairy farming viability and transformer replacements are taking too long. This forces us to operate on generators which erodes the margins”.
Zimbandu is succeeded by Kudzai Chirima.