Government has partnered the private sector in the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to boost milk production in Zimbabwe, with the cow herd growing to around 30 000 cows by 2022.
The interventions are expected to progressively reduce the 44,6 million litres milk supply deficit after the country produced 75,4 million litres in 2018 against demand of 120 million litres.
This comes as the European Union is also supporting a four-year equipment and infrastructure initiative targeting dairy farmers under the Zimbabwe Agriculture Growth programme funded to the tune of about €2,1 million.
It will see at least 1 000 in-calf dairy heifers being distributed to farmers on a revolving basis, while at least 4 000 farmers will be capacitated.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers national small-scale farmer field day last week, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said public and private partnerships were key to the recovery of the industry.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said smallholder farmers' contribution could be increased by implementing a national strategy to address the challenges they face.
He said integration of the milk production value chain through provision of business support services and markets by the private sector was key in increasing production.
To that end, Nestle Zimbabwe, among other dairy processing companies such as Dendairy, ProBrands and Dairibord, have been supporting smallholder farmers in Chitomborwizi, Mashonaland West, after an initial injection of 100 dairy cows in 2015.
We Effect project coordinator Dr Edson Chifamba said the four-year EU-funded programme targeted training of dairy farmers and support grants for infrastructure and herd growth.
At least €800 000 will go towards large- scale farmers who are expected to provide 50 percent of their requirements and a grant of similar value is extended to the farmer.
Another €350 000 targets milk collection centres and small-scale processors where the fund provides 70 percent towards a project with the farmer contributing the balance.
A further €1 million will be available to small-scale dairy farmers where they contribute 30 percent and the fund provides 70 percent towards purchase of equipment.
ZADF chairman Mr Kudzai Chirima called on Government to expand Command Livestock to assist in the importation of embryos to be implanted in the beef cows.