Zimbabwe’s dairy herd rose 11.3% to 53 250 animals in 2022 from 47 845 in the previous year, on the back of interventions by the government, the private sector and development partners, the latest livestock assessment report shows.
“Total dairy herd continued in a positive trend recording an 11.3% growth to 53 250 dairy animals in 2022 from 47 845 in 2021. This has resulted in a steady increase in annual milk production.
“The milking herd grew to 35 100 cows [milking and dry cows] producing 91.6m litres of milk,” reads part of the report.
The report also revealed that the number of registered dairy entities increased to 244 from 238 in 2021.
“There are 36 smallholder milk collection centres around the country of which 24 are operational, four are under construction and eight have been closed because of low milk volumes.”
The increase in milk production in the country has resulted in a 17% decline in milk powder imports.
According to the Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future (TranZDVC) initiative, the country imported 200 in-calf heifers from the eastern Cape in South Africa in February 2020 to improve the genetic base of Zimbabwe’s dairy cattle.
This formed part of TranZDVC’s drive towards increased productivity, production and profitability.
The animals had since been distributed to various regions throughout Zimbabwe.
Local dairy producers were also supported under the Command Silage Programme, facilitated by the Agricultural Finance Corporation and CBZ Bank.
The initiative was modelled on the National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme, formerly known as the Command Agriculture programme.
There are programmes to upscale milk production and productivity per cow including the presidential silage programme supporting more than 1 00 smallholder dairy farmers with a standard input package comprising maize seed, basal fertiliser, and top-dressing fertiliser for one hectare of silage.
Silage is a highly nutritious and affordable feed option which the government is promoting under the ‘own farm feed formulation’ programme that started in 2021.
This comes at a time when the grazing condition and availability were generally fair to good at the time of assessment due to good rains received across the country.
Livestock conditions were generally good for all ruminant species across all farming sectors and this is attributed to improving grazing conditions and grazing availability.