HARARE – Zimbabwe’s cumulative milk output for the first half of the year stood at 34,77 million litres, surpassing the previous year’s performance of 31,19 million litres by 11,5 percent, the central bank has said.
Highlighting that a total of 17,76 million litres of milk were produced in the second quarter of 2018 — a 13,84 percent increase from 15,60 million litres recorded prior comparable period — the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe also said it remained optimistic the country would meet its 70 million litre milk output target this year.
“The higher milk output levels were attributed to the availability of stock feeds, following a fair agricultural season, as well as the improvement in the national dairy herd over the year,” the apex bank said in its second quarter economic report.
Despite the annual dairy output falling below the national requirement of 120 million litres, the increase in output was in line with the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) Strategic Plan (2018 to 2022), which aims to raise production levels to 130 million litres by 2022.
The strategy envisages to increase milk output through increasing herd size, improving genetics, intensifying farmer training, and improving productivity per cow to 15 litres of milk of per day, from the current 12,5 litres per day, among other initiatives.
This comes as the 2017/2018 Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report, indicated that the cattle population grew 1,69 percent, from 5,49 million head in 2017 to 5,58 million head in 2018, attributable to an increase in average calving rates from 45 percent to 47 percent, which had a positive impact on herd re-building.
According to the RBZ report, a total of 70 194 cattle were slaughtered in the formal sector, during the second quarter of 2018, a three percent increase on the 67 887 cattle that were slaughtered during the same period in 2017.
During the second quarter of 2018, pig slaughters also increased by 7,50 percent to 42 813, from 39 826 slaughters during the same period last year.
This comes as Anthony Mandiwanza, chief executive at listed dairy firm, Dairibord Holdings, recently told The Financial Gazette that Zimbabwe was likely to miss its 70 million litre milk projection for 2018.
“The diary sector will show you that at peak in 1990/91, the peak milk production was 260 million litres per annum. Last year, we did 67 million litres. This year, we will be lucky is we reach 70 million litres,” he said during an interview.
Mandiwanza said the dairy sector had continued to experience declines in output, in spite of an increase in the country’s population and demand.
“In 1990, the population was approximately eight million and today it has increased to about 14 million and yet the milk production has dropped that much. This means demand and supply is not being matched,” he said.
In 1990, Zimbabwe achieved a 260 million litre output from 197 000 dairy cows. Now the country does 70 million litres from less than 32 000 cows on the land.
Official data from the Finance ministry’s Fiscal Policy and Advisory Services Department indicates that despite the nine percent year- on-year increase from 15,6 million litres recorded in the first three months of 2017, milk production had decreased in the first quarter of 2017.
“… As a result, milk output during the first quarter of 2018 stood at 17 million litres compared to 15,6 million litres for comparable period in 2017.
“This level of production is, however, lower than that registered during the fourth quarter of 2017 at 17,8 million litres “Looking ahead, milk production is expected to exceed 70 million litres by year end,” Treasury said in its first quarter bulletin.
—The Financial Gazette