Dairy herd count drops to 22,000

dairy_farmShops full of SA milk imports
CHIPINGE - Milk supplies here have dwindled as dairy farmers who use to supply the nation said the country`s dairy herd was down to less than 22,000 cows from 192,000 in 2000.

Farmers said the low herd count had resulted in a drastic reduction in milk production. All this is as a result of the controversial 2000 land grab by the former Zanu (PF) government.

Martin Dutchse, a farmer in Chipinge, told The Zimbabwean that the situation had been slow to recover because most of the cattle died due to lack of expertise by new farmers.

Some of the dairy cows were forcibly taken from commercial farmers and sold for consumption purposes as resettled farmers did not have enough food in their fields to feed their families, said Dutchse.

Another farmer, Thomas Kilmer, said most commercial farmers had abandoned dairy farming and focused on other projects such as horticulture. Kilmer said there was need for massive capital injection to resuscitate the dairy farming sector to pre-1999 levels.

The government will have to invest heavily in training and restocking the dairy herd. We used to supply Dairibord Zimbabwe with tonnes of milk, but how many of us have stopped across the country? said Kilmer, who was forced to stop dairy farming as a result of disturbances by war veterans and youths militias.

Zimbabwe`s retail outlet shelves are full of imported milk from South Africa.

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