By Lovemore Kadzura
The dairy sector is set for a massive revitalisation after Government launched the National Command Dairy programme at Sangano Cooperative Dairy in Makoni last week.
Speaking during the launch, Finance and Economic Development Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa, who was standing in for Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri, said the programme would see the country producing 200 million litres of milk per annum, a figure which was last reached before the land reform programme.
Cde Chinamasa added that Government had partnered with private companies to fund the programme. In Manicaland, diamond mining concern Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) will fund the artificial insemination programmes while Homelink will do the same in Mashonaland East province.
“Dairy farming is not an easy venture and since we embarked on the land reform programme milk production plunged from 200 million litres per annum to 30 million litres. The new farmers are, however, trying their best and production has since risen to 55 million liters per annum. The nation consumes 120 liters of milk annually meaning the surplus is for export.
He stressed that the programme was purely commercial adding that it was not free for all because freebies could destroy the nation.
Minister Chinamasa said heifers would be availed to farmers who had the capacity to partake in dairy farming.
“Government is also going to avail skilled personnel who will be on its payroll to monitor, assist and manage dairy cooperatives and small-scale farmers. We are doing this because the dary industry is complex hence most farmers find the going tough.
“At every dairy scheme Government will also avail a tractor and a baler. The farmers will also get trained before being contracted by the Government. Government has availed five heifers for Sangano Dairy Cooperative under the Command Scheme and in addition to that, as the Member of Parliament for Makoni Central I am donating three dairy bulls to the cooperative and 10 kilogrammes of maize seed to each farmer to grow maize for silage,” said Cde Chinamasa.
“We welcome the Command Dairy programme because it has come at the right time when everyone is optimistic that the economy will fully recover. Most cooperatives and individual farmers are limping because dairy farming is capital intensive.
“The programme will reignite energy in dairy farming again. As Sangano we are humbled that this programme has been launched at our cooperative and we are also among the first to be chosen to implement the programme. We will not disappoint; the cooperative has been in existence for years and all the members have amassed a lot of valuable experience,” said Mr Mudangwe.