Dairy farmers have welcomed the commissioning of Doonside milk collection centre in Mutorashanga which is set to help overcome milk handling challenges and boost the country’s milk production in line with the Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) goals.
Poor milk handling facilities have for years negatively affected milk production and led to huge losses both in terms of productivity, lost farmer earnings and the rise in the import cost of milk to fill the local demand gap.
The commissioning of the milk centre, which has better technology for storage, will help farmers to overcome different value chain challenges and increase their milk production.
The project seeks to increase the capacity of smallholder farmers through increasing their production, and linking them to the markets.
The farmers hope that with increased production through more of their members acquiring dairy cows, the milk delivered at the centre could be sold to markets in the urban areas once local demand had been met.
Mrs Silvia Mahala of Ward 25 in Nyabira said the initiative was a welcome development since farmers are guaranteed of a good market adding that the initiative is going to empower the majority of farmers financially.
“This is a positive step in the rural area, some of our children will be employed at the centre.
“Moreover, some of us are going to learn how to produce different milk products at the centre. This is a huge achievement in rural areas. We appreciate such efforts. We hope this to be implemented in most parts of rural areas.
A farmer Claudious Burira of Chitomborwizi said dairy is an interesting programme adding that farmers should devise their own feed to make it cheaper.
“We are grateful for our President. We were assisted by Government with maize, seed , fertilisers to all farmers who are in dairy farming to do silage.We are also going to be given all these very soon,’’ he said.
Mr Michael Kavhaire, an aspiring dairy farmer said they look forward to indulging in successful programme so as to uplift the community and upgrade the industry.
“We were told to start the programme using our hard Mashona type. We look forward to upscaling our dairy projects. There are lots of products that are produced from milk. We hope to manufacture all these products,’’ he said.
Development of the dairy sector is an efficient tool as it generates a continuous flow of income, diversifies risk, improves utilisation of resources, and generates employment.
For potential milk yields to be realised, all production constraints and their individual effects on milk production must be identified
Speaking on behalf of the permanent secretary of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera while commissioning Doonside milk collection centre in Mutorashanga , Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) chief director Professor Obert Jiri challenged dairy farmers to engage in value addition drive so as to empower those who are unemployed and to improve the dairy industry
‘’We are anticipating that this year we will produce 105 litres of milk, we need 150 million litres.
“We want farmers to grow their own pastures so that it becomes cheap and enables them to produce more quality milk. Lets make sure that our cattle are fed and we need to control diseases. We will be moving around the country to establish centres like these.
“What is needed is to make sure that the cattle should suit the environment. I want to urge farmers to grow their own feed,’’ he said.
Recently Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union economist Ms Nyasha Taderera said the improvement made so far in the dairy sector is a positive step towards the growth of the dairy industry.
“There is a positive step towards improvement of the dairy sector. There will be a reduction of import of milk powders from South Africa.
“This also shows that milk consumption in the country will increase and there will be more investors in the dairy industry,” she said.
The Government, working in conjunction with development partners, has embarked on a massive US$4 million project aimed at increasing the country’s dairy herd including boosting the horticulture value chains in 13 districts.
The project, which is known as Inclusive Market Oriented Value Chains for Economic Development (Imoved) is a four-year programme being funded by We Effect, a Swedish entity.
It is being implemented in 13 districts of the country by three local partners comprising Women and Land in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers and Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust.
The programme will run until November 2026.