Government says raw milk supply surged to 83 million litres this year, up from 79,6 million litres recorded in the previous year, buoyed by the accelerated five-year dairy sector development plan.
In an 18-page paper titled The State of Industry and Commerce submitted to Cabinet recently, Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza said the country still required imports to cover the supply gap.
“The five-year dairy sector development plan is being accelerated and so far, raw milk supply has increased from 79,6 million litres in 2021 to 83 million litres,” Nzenza said.
“Imports continue to cover the supply gap to meet the national demand of 130 million litres,” she said.
Government has been supporting the dairy sector through national budgets.
Apart from government, several other schemes led by the private sector have also been supporting the sector.
Under the livestock and recovery growth plan, milk production is expected to rise from the current annual production of 79,9 million litres to 150 million litres.
In addition, the dairy herd is anticipated to grow from 39 980 to 60 000 by 2025.
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Dairy players produced 79,6 million litres in 2021, representing a 4% increase from 76,69 million litres produced in 2020.
According to the document, there are 520 smallholder farmers and 200 medium- to large-scale farmers supplying 98% raw milk on the local market.
However, Nzenza said the dairy industry revitalisation programme for heifer imports had yielded positive results.
She said the sector had doubled its capacity utilisation from 34% to 60% to date as a result of the programme.
Zimbabwe's annual demand for milk stands at 130 million litres, which the southern African country has been failing to reach for over a decade now.
Since the country cannot produce enough milk, the excess demand is met through powdered imports mainly from neighbouring South Africa under a duty-free quota system to approved importers.
However, analysts have called upon smallholder and medium-scale farmers to venture into dairy farming so as to boost milk production in the country and meet local demand.
The Zimbabwean dairy industry recorded a sharp decline in milk production from 262 million litres in 1990 to 37 million litres in 2009. There was a steady but slow increase to 82 million litres in 2021.
Early this year, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers business and growth development committee chairperson Peter Muzariri said historically milk production was only done by commercial farmers, adding that smallholder farmers should fill the supply gap.
“There is a huge deficit in terms of milk supply, we must ensure that we increase to meet our national requirement. Over and above that once we are above the national requirement, we can export, which will ensure the much-needed foreign currency in the country,” he said.
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