ZIMBABWE’S milk production marginally declined by 1% to 19,2 million litres in the first quarter of this year, with the increasing headwinds posing a serious threat to the sector’s viability, a new report has revealed.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

In its latest report, the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (Lmac) revealed that between January and March, milk production was 19,2 million litres compared to 19,4 million litres collected in the prior period.

“Milk production for the first quarter to March 2020 amounted to 19,2 million litres. This is a marginal decline of 1% over the same period in 2019. January milk collections were the highest for the quarter at 6,83 million litres,” reads the report in part.

“Although this is the second highest first quarter production since 2013, the increasing headwinds the sector is facing is becoming more evident. The government pronouncement on the global pandemic COVID-19 and resultant lockdown is expected to adversely affect the dairy sector, especially in the short run, as producers grapple with increased compliance costs and restricted movements.”

“This development compounds challenges that already existed in the value chain, primarily driven by the deteriorating macro-economic environment,” it reads.

Dairy farmers are facing a number of challenges such as stockfeed shortages, high cost of drugs and chemicals.

They are also struggling to access funding from banks because of the punitive interest rates on loans.

Due to these challenges, milk production levels have dramatically plummeted from the early 1990s peak of 260 million litres per year to 79,9 million litres which were achieved in 2019.

Zimbabwe is importing about 30 million litres of milk from South Africa to supplement local supplies.

Annually, the southern African nation requires at least 120 million litres of milk.

In 2018, milk production stood at 75,3 million litres. Government is targeting to increase milk production by between 97 million and 100 million litres per annum.

To help boost production, the government together with We Effect Zimbabwe and other partners, last year launched a four-year dairy revival project worth about US$8 million.

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