Zimbabwe’s raw milk production declined marginally to 37.56 million litres in the first six months of 2020 from 38.88 million litres recorded in the prior period in 2019 as successive droughts continues to stifle the dairy sector full potential.

Milk production in the country has since been on a steady increase since 2009.

Latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture’s dairy services department shows that milk intake by processors was down 3% to 33.97 million litres from 35.14 million litres in the same period in 2019. In the same vein, retailed milk by producers marginally declined from 3.62 million litres recorded in the prior period last year to 3.62 million litres.

The southern African nation’s monthly milk requirement stands at 10 million litres. In June 2020, raw milk production fell by 5.17 percent to 6.20 million litres compared from 6.58 million litres in the previous period.

January output at 6.83 million litres is the highest so far followed by March output at 6.32 million litres. However, April output is ranked the lowest at 6.01 million litres – largely attributed to water shortages.

Zimbabwe’s milk output growth has been averaging 8.3% (68.94 million litres) in the last five years, with 2019 recording the highest output of 79.89 million litres despite the adverse effect of the El Nino induced drought, which had an impact on milk yields.

Milk output rose 6% to 79.89 million litres in 2019 from 75.42 million litres recorded in 2018. But, the output missed the target of 100 million litres by 20.21%. It is also lower than the national consumption of 130 million litres.

The dairy sector continues to face a plethora of challenges such as high cost of feed to subsidize the low stocks of hay and also the unavailability of long-term funding. In addition, factors such as shortage of water and stock feeds as well as erratic rains are also negatively impacting production.

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