Revitalisation of dairy industry in Matabeleland

By Providence Maraneli

COMPANIES involved in milk processing and marketing have been urged to partner farmers to grow the sector as the Second Republic works on strategies to resuscitate the dairy herd.

With the country only producing 89 million litres of milk from 25 000 dairy cows against a national demand of 120 million litres, a call has been made to capacitate dairy farmers to close the deficit.

The involvement of well-established dairy farmers, including Sedgemoor Dairy Farm in Bulilima, which produces 3% of the national milk supply in capacitating small-scale farmers and the resuscitation of Dairiboard Bulawayo have been cited as key strategies to revive the sector.

“We are currently milking 190 cows and this is our lowest time of the year, but by June we will be doing 250 cows and produce 4000 litres of milk a day. Our production dropped severely due to the have rains and the increased input cost and we need support for us to increase production,” said Pamela Rauch, Bulilima dairy farmer.

For small scale farmers in the region who attended a field day at Sedgemoor Dairy Farm this Tuesday, the issue of capacity building is key.

“I milk six indigenous cows and the production levels and output are very low. I would need to be capacitated with dairy breeds and knowledge,” said a local farmer.

“We face challenges in transporting our milk to our milk centre in`Umzingwane and also the herds are so small. So, we have come here to learn how it is done in a proper dairy farm. We are grateful that the government is supporting us through the dairy farming input scheme” said a farmer.

With the nation seized with resuscitation of the national dairy herd, the involvement of companies in the same sector is imperative.

“We are at a giant’s farm significantly contributing to national milk supply. Despite the challenges that we heard, they are still going on. We need to know the number of dairy farmers in Matabeleland and how we can get the million litres so that the Dairiboard can run. Dairiboard and all other users of milk and milk processors must come on board and ensure they contribute to the production of raw materials they use,” said Prof Obert Jiri from the Ministry of Lands Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development.

Dairiboard has described Sedgemoor Dairy Farm, which has been operating in Bulilima district for past 73 years, as one of the best milk producers in the country