HARARE – The dairy sector has recorded a boost of three to five percent in liquid milk production as a result of the Dairy Revitalisation Project (DRP).
The DRP is a private public partnership programme mooted in 2016 responsible for the importation of 400 calf heifers to boost milk production, according to the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT).
“The DRP is now contributing three to five percent of national liquid milk production and has improved the productivity of the dairy sector as 235 female calves have been produced from the imported animals adding to the national herd,” ZDIT chairperson, Theodora Marimo, said.
According to ZDIT, the country currently has adequate processing capacity to meet the local demand for liquid milks (UHT, Fresh, Sterilised and fermented) as well as other milk products like yoghurts, ice cream, cream and dairy juices.
“There have also been other initiatives by processors and individual farmers who have also imported their own heifers,” Marimo said.
The ZDIT chairperson revealed that the growth in milk production is steadily growing and the dairy sector is hopeful that by 2022, Zimbabwe would be milk self-sufficient.
Last year, milk production was 66 million litres and this year production increased to more than 70 million litres.
The trust revealed that prior to the implementation of the DRP, 2015 milk production was pegged at 58 million litres. In 2016, there was a 13 percent increase to 65 million litres.
“Going forward we are looking at importing sexed semen which will guarantee female calves when the cows give birth so that we can reach the target milking herd within the shortest possible time in order to be self-sufficient in milk production as a country,” Marimo said.
According to Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), the country is in the process of importing embryos from South Africa in order to boost the national herd.
Zimbabwe used to import three million litres of milk per month to cover for the shortfall in national production whose demand was eight million litres against the five
million litres the dairy sector was producing at the time.
However, ZDIT revealed that currently there are some imports because of a local monthly supply deficit of 30 metric ton (MT) for butter and 56 MT for cheese as local production is not adequate on these two lines which require raw milk for manufacturing.