Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Shadreck Makombe says supporting small scale dairy farmers could help alleviate the raw milk crisis.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a serious shortage of raw milk with the country’s biggest milk processor, Dairibord Holdings Limited, recently warning that the situation was dire.
Makombe implored big players to partner the small scale farmers as this will improve the Zimbabwe milk situation.
“As it stands the small to medium farmers are the ones who are gradually filling the gap that was left or which is being left by the large scale commercial farmers. If groomed, supported and nurtured they can be great players in the sector as they take a hands-on approach. As of now they are already playing a major role to fill the shortage gap in the market,” Makombe said.
“We implore the bigger farmers to nurture, partner franchise and find means and ways to make these small farmers grow as the main goal is to have as many dairy farmers as possible which will translate to an improvement in the Zimbabwean milk industry.
Last year, Zimbabwe’s annual raw milk production declined by 4% to 76.6m litres from 79.6 litres produced in the previous year.
This situation has worsened this year with some companies are contemplating pulling out of the milk production business.
The crisis has resulted in small scale dairy farmers emerging to cover for the gap.
One such is Cyprian Kunaka who is based in Ruwa. Kunaka has won numerous awards in Zimbabwe among them for best milk quality, price ,milk volume only to mention a few.
Kunaka boasts of a herd of more than 130 cattle, which produces more than 1 500 litres of milk daily.
He supplies milk to big brands in the capital Harare.
He also makes quality feed for dairy animals, which he also sells to other farmers.
“I have succeeded in breeding high quality holstein animals producing high volume and high milk components and also in making top quality feeds for dairy animals which I also sell to other farmers, By this I have managed to greatly reduce my milk production costs as feed currently tops on cost’’ he said.
Zimbabwe’s leading food giant, Nestlé Zimbabwe, has been supporting small scale dairy farmers in the country through its National Dairy Empowerment Scheme launched in 2011.
Nestlé supports small scale farmers through establishment of milk collection centres by giving cooling tanks, solar powered boreholes to address water challenges for irrigation and pasture and silage support to reduce commercial feed requirements as feed constitutes about 75% of the cost of production per litre of milk.