MILK production fell by 2 percent to 15,59 million litres in the first quarter of 2017 from 15,93 million litres during the same quarter last year.
Milk production figures from the dairy services unit in the department of livestock and veterinary services show that the country produced 5,54 million litres of milk in January 2017, an increase from 5,52 million litres recorded during the same month last year.
February figures show a 12 percent decline from prior year’s 5 038 million litres to 4 394 million litres this year. There was, however, an improvement in March where 5 660 million litres were produced, that is 5 percent above the 5 378 million litres produced in the same month in 2016.
There has been a steady growth in milk production in the country in the past few years. According to Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers, total milk production rose 4 percent to 58 million litres in 2015 from 2014’s 56 million litres.
Last year, milk production further improved to 65 million litres. Milk production in Zimbabwe experienced a dip from the early 1990s peak of 260 million litres annually to an estimated 50 million litres to 65 million litres as the industry battle challenges that have been bedevilling the economy in the past decade.
Like any other sector, dairy producers have bemoaned unfair competition from imports, high cost of production, lack of long term funding and recently the effects of the El-Nino induced drought that saw some industry players such as Dairibord temporarily suspend their heifer import programme. But Government, together with stakeholders launched a Dairy Revitalisation Programme to address such challenges and improve the sector’s competitiveness. It is anticipated annual production will improve to 77 million litres by 2018 while national herd increases to 33 000 cows from 29 000 cows.
In 2015, national demand for milk was between nine million litres and 10 million litres a month but reduced to 8 million litres as consumers shifted the product mix to lower margin basics on low disposable incomes