‘New’ farmers paralyse dairy industry

The Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers has revealed that milk output from resettled farmers countrywide have hit a record low, forcing the nation to import over 85 percent in order to satisfy demand.

Demand for milk is pegged at 5 million litres a year but local farmers have of late been producing just under 750 000 litres annually. This is in sharp contrast to the situation before the chaotic and corrupt land ‘reform’ programme where productive commercial farmers, who were forcibly kicked off their land, could satisfy local demand and still have plenty for export.

ZADF Midlands Chairman, Emmanuel Zimbandu, bemoaned the development at a recent meeting of dairy farmers who gathered in Gweru for a crunch indaba. “It is a sad state of affairs that 85 percent of the milk being consumed in Zimbabwe is being imported despite us having a local industry,” he said.

“Government has informed us that it will be coming up with a policy that will be unveiled very soon to ensure the growth of the dairy industry so as to stop the importation of milk within three years,” he said.

However, concerns are that if the imports of milk are to be banned that will not arrest the deficit of the product but will only result in countrywide shortages. This raises the need for capacity building of the farmers among other plans that can ensure that nation the nation does not run out of milk, he added.

In a separate interview, Darryn Cotzee, the general manager of the Kwekwe-based dairy conglomerate Deindairy, said apart from a deficit of milk supply, his company also faced challenges with farmers who provide poor quality milk. Some farmers failed to vaccinate their animals against the lumpy-skin disease, which affects the quality of milk.

Recently the government, which is battling to keep the dairy industry afloat, made an embarrassing u-turn and announced that white farmers specialising in dairy farming should be spared from eviction. In Midlands, the development saw the provincial lands committee, chaired by state minister Jason Machaya, sparing 30 farmers whose properties had been earmarked for compulsory acquisition.

Out of the 30 spared farmers, 16 were in Gweru where dairy farmer De Bryns’ property along Shurugwi road had already been occupied by the “new” farmers who were mostly from the city’s state security agents like police, army and the Central Intelligence Organisation. They have since been ordered out.

Post published in: Agriculture

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