Government milk levy the only hope say dairy farmers

Dairy farmers in the Midlands say they want the government to levy foreign milk and milk product importers to boost local production.

“The scenario is happening in other sectors like the motor industry where local players are protected through duty on all imported cars,” said Lincoln Richards, a dairy farmer in Guinea Fowl near Gweru.

“Our expectation is that we should also be protected so that we thrive. That is our major hope.”

The call came after the deputy agriculture and mechanisation minister responsible for livestock, Paddy Zhanda, said Zimbabwe was importing an average of 5m litres of milk a month, depressing growth prospects for the local industry.

The situation was compounded by consumers’ preferences for imports as they were slightly cheaper than local milk.

The farmers said they believed if the imported products were levied by, at least 25 per cent, the local markets would see a major boost. Consumers would turn back to them and government would also make a substantial income in the process.

“It’s a win-win situation for government to protect local dairy farmers by placing a fair levy on all milk imports,” said Richards.

“While we will benefit from increased demand for milk from our farms and therefore remain vibrant in the agricultural sector, the government will also benefit from the tax revenue.”

Another Gweru farmer, Godknows Mataruse, said farmers were unanimous in wanting a government levy on milk imports. He pointed out that it only made sense for the government to support its own local farmers and ensure that they contributed to the economy in their own way.

His sentiments were supported by Miguel Nemamwa, a newly resettled farmer,: “The Government in the coming year should help the dairy farming sector thrive and, yes, the issue of levying milk imports is key to that. Local farmers have the capacity to be major providers but they are pushed out of business by the imports.”

Daryl Archibald, the director of the Dendairy company, added: “The dairy farming sector has been growing by between three and six per cent since 2009 due to the imports. So a levy of, say, 25 per cent would ensure a rapid and bigger growth of the sector.

“Financing the farmers has been a challenge and so in the coming year, if the government can get revenue through taxes, it will be in a position to bail out some struggling players and realise even bigger dividends,” he said.

Recently, former Midlands governor Cephas Msipa urged minister Zhanda to spare white dairy farmers from further land invasions as another measure to boost the sector.

He noted that they could contribute to the economy if given security like offer letters and necessary support.

Post published in: News

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