Zimbabwe’s raw milk production increased 11 percent to 7,09 million litres in August 2021 compared to 6,2 million litres in the same period last year as Government efforts to rebuild the smallholder dairy sector and private sector heifer import schemes begin to pay off.
The livestock growth plan envisages that the sector grows to a US$1,9 billion industry by 2023 up from the US$0,9 billion industry that it is, and is targeting to increase the number of milking cows from the current 19 000 to 39 000 by 2023.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture’s dairy services department, raw milk output started picking up in May as it rose 6,48 percent to 6,5 million litres from 6,11 million litres last year.
In June, milk production was up 6 percent to 6,58 million litres from 6,2 million litres in the same month last year. As at July, output reached 6,73 million litres from 6, 52 million litres previously.
The average monthly milk production for the period under review was at 6,32 million litres. In the same period last year it was at 6,31 million litres.
On average, the country was last year producing 6,39 million litres of milk per month and in 2019, average monthly milk output stood at 6,65 million litres.
At peak production, Zimbabwe had 42 000 milking cows with a total dairy herd of 19 000 producing 260 million litres in 1990.
In an effort to revive the dairy sector, Government through the Agriculture and Rural Development Agency (ARDA) is revitalising the dairy development programme, and has accomplished 30 projects and the small holder farmers are now contributing four percent of total national milk production, although production per cow per day is low at 8 litres, but projected to increase to at least 12 litres per day.
In the large dairy sector, milk production per cow is 12 litres per day and the plan is to increase it to 20 litres per day.
Meanwhile, according to the official data, in the first eight months of the year, milk output was flat at 50,62 million litres.
The data also shows that milk intake by processors was up one percent to 46,09 million litres from 45,72 million litres in the same period in 2020.
However, retailed milk by producers was down 6 percent from 4,79 million litres recorded in the prior period last year to 4,52 million litres.