Government will continue to encourage public- private sector partnerships in the dairy industry to drive training, research, extension support and development of the sector, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made has said.
Dr Made said this while officially opening the ninth Eastern and Southern African Dairy Association Conference and Exhibition in Harare on Wednesday.
“As Government we are aware of the critical role the dairy industry plays in improving livelihoods through its contribution towards food security and as such we encourage public-private sector partnerships to ensure development of the industry through funding for training, research extension, support and development,” he said.
The minister added that new technologies should also be embraced and adopted throughout the value chain to increase productivity while mitigating shortages of dairy products emanating from high demand against low production.
Zimbabwe Dairy Trust chairman Mr Thompson Mabika, whose association is hosting the event in partnership with the Eastern and Southern African Dairy Association, said he hoped the conference will result in resuscitation of the local dairy industry.
“We hope that this event that involves sharing and exchange of ideas, experiences and challenges will usher in a new era in the local dairy industry which is currently faced with a number of challenges that are affecting viability and profitability,” he said.
Some of the major challenges include competition from cheaper imports, high cost of utilities such as energy and water and high processing costs that negatively affect the pricing structures.
Zimbabwe has seven major processing companies and in excess of 20 small players while the processing capacity of around 400 million litres annually is currently operating at less than 45 percent capacity.
Demand is estimated at 120 million litres per year, which far exceeds current supply of just over 50 million litres while the national herd has fallen from about 104 000 in 2002 to around 26 000 this year.
Esada also expressed concern over the emergence of informal players that is posing to be a major
concern due to the health risk that this has on consumers thus the need for all member states to work together in order to improve standards in the production chain.
During the conference delegates noted that the quality of raw milk within the region was having a direct bearing on the quality of processed milk and dairy products.
They noted that there was need to invest in mechanisation of the milking processes, improved trade policies and platform for technology transfer between the Eastern and Southern African Dairy Association member states to guarantee maximum capacity utilisation
and high quality dairy products that meet standard quality.