By Ndafadza Madanha
DAIRY farming in Zimbabwe is poised for growth under the 40 million euros European Union (EU) funded Zimbabwe Agriculture Growth Programme (ZAGP) which targets to have 4 500 small holder dairy farmers by 2022.
Under ZAGP the Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain (TranZDVC) for the Future was allocated seven million euros to address the root causes of underperformance in the Dairy Value Chain (DVC) in Zimbabwe by strengthening the linkages between production, processing and financing
At its peak in 1990 Zim produced 260m liters and reached a low of less than 40m liters in 2008. Since 2008 output has steadily grown to 80m liters recorded last year against annual demand pegged at 130m liters.
Currently Zimbabwe’s dairy herd stands at 39 000 with 28 000 pure breed &11 000 cross breed which is a far cry from 192 000 dairy herd at the peak of production.
Since launching last year TranZDVC, through its implementing partner We Effect, commendable progress in attracting small holder farmers into dairy farming has been registered with over 1500 new small farmers recruited.
However, the cost of dairy stockfeeds remains a major impediment for most farmers as it constitutes 76 percent of costs.
The collapse of Milk Collection Centres (MCCs) and little knowledge about dairy farming in the country also poised a challenge for aspiring small holder farmers.
In order to navigate some of the challenges WE Effect which specialises in empowering small holder dairy farmers improve their farming practices and business management has come with a number of interventions to support the budding farmers.
Recently the TranZDVC through WE Effect handed over an assortment of equipment to the Watershed Dairy Farmers Association which is made up of 32 small holder farmers who pooled their resources to raise US$12 500 to kick-start their operations at Magure Farm.
Under the ZAGP funding requirements beneficiaries are expected to match the EU for every dollar they receive and Nestle Zimbabwe chipped in on behalf of the farmers with a US$44 000 solar power plant to match the equipment provided by the EU.
Owing to support received through TransZDVC the Watershed Dairy Farmers Association is now producing over 200 litres per day.
TransZDVC has also partnered with large milk processors such as Dairibord, Kefalos in other provinces to ensure a consistent and reliable market for their milk.
We Effect project co-ordinator Dr Edson Chifamba said the project is run on a business model and intensive training that is given to the beneficiaries to ensure they are successful in their operations.
The out-grower dairy models are expected improve milk aggregation and bulking. Inclusive business models will leverage private sector dairy integrators to provide access to new and more secure markets, access to training and other business support services.
Demand for milk
Milk consumption per capita in Zimbabwe is still very low and is estimated to be between seven to eight litres per person per annum, indicative of the potential the industry has if compared with other regional countries like Botswana and South Africa who consume between 37 and 79 litres per person per annum.
The decline in the local dairy industry product has led to the influx of South African products which now dominate the local market.
Research carried by a local stock broking firm revealed that the dairy sector small processing plants are sometimes more profitable than large operations.
“The processing plants in the globalized environment are not always scale-dependent and small operations may be more economically efficient than larger plants, encouraging the participation of smaller enterprises in niche markets” said the report.