Unlike the selling of animals, the selling of dairy products is widespread among the Zimbabwean. The traditional pastoral sector is noted for the production of milk. The vending of milk is the most important economic preoccupation of the Zimbabwean.
Dairy industry in Zimbabwe, however, faces many challenges.
Milk, the “…most nutritious food known to man is important in the diet and culture of the Zimbabweans.
Fresh, boiled, or curdled, milk is consumed by the Zimbabwean and by the rural population. The Zimbabwean women monopolize
the local dairy production in Zimbabwe, although they own only a few of the family’s cattle.
Pastoral women, whose liking for milk ranges from mild to excessive, sell milk and cooked millet balls.
In the dry season, milking is suspended or reduced to just once a day.
Milk women keep the proceed from dairy sales, which they use to buy grains, seasonings, flavorings, beverages, vegetables, food utensils, cooking oils, and other household goods.
The Nature of Supply, Demand, and Consumption of Milk In Zimbabwe
Milk is the most frequently used cattle product, however, many families cannot get enough milk for daily nourishment. Although traditional dairying in Zimbabwe starts centuries ago, industrial dairying is recent.
Reports indicate that Zimbabwe has the potential of being a major milk producer in Africa. Using improved methods of storing,processing, packaging, and transporting, milk output can be raised substantially for internal use and for export.
Africa contributes just over two percent of the World’s milk supply. Milk accounts for twenty to twenty-five percent of the agricultural sector in Sub-Sahara, two percent of its calories, thirty-three percent of its calcium, and four percent of protein for its people. By value, livestock products make up eleven percent of the food.
Problems And Challenges Of Dairy Production In Zimbabwe
Modern dairying is declining in Zimbabwe, and the per capital consumption of milk is dropping.
In the last ten years, average milk intake has dropped from 40 to 27 kilograms. The production and consumption of milk are not adequately documented in the country. These figures, therefore, should be treated with caution, since only about ten percent of the milk consumed in Zimbabwe goes through the market.
Among the problems identified in milk production in Zimbabwe are low milk output of cows, poor grass quality that leads to low milk yield, and lack of storage and processing equipment. Unsanitary methods of milk handling, breakdown of processing plants, and inefficient milk collection also impede the performance of the milk industries in Zimbabwe. Competition between itinerant milk collectors and official milk
collectors, faulty pricing and management policies, and lack of economic incentives from the government hamper the expansion of Zimbabwe’s dairy industry.
1. The local cow genotype (Bos indicus) that contributes about sixty-five percent of the milk in Zimbabwe is multipurpose. Yielding only about 0.7 liters of milk per day, the local breed is not, therefore, a good milker.
Genetic improvement of the local variety relies on natural cross-breeding. Less than three percent of the stock has been artificially inseminated.
2. Slow maturation, and low productivity of the local breed of Zimbabwe’s cattle add to these problems.
3. With the exception of farm residue, the natural grass upon which the bovine depend is low in protein and indigestible roughage. Animals feeding on this grass have poor nutrition and low milk harvest.
4. Most rural residents drink milk, but the average household expenditure on milk rarely exceeds two percent of the income. In the urban areas milk (powdered, condensed, or evaporated) is a luxury item.
Peak and Carnation brands are the popular creamers and tea whiteners in Zimbabwe.
5. The dairy industry in Zimbabwe is faced with logistical problems too. The inefficient method of collection and distribution of milk hinder dairy development. Milk producing areas are in the hinterland, where vehicles cannot reach easily. The lack of access roads and specialized vehicles necessitate the delivery of milk by foot or by donkeys. Transportation by foot or on the hooves is obvious slow, and in the milk marketing, it may spell the difference between business success and business failure.
6. The zimbabwean cannot deliver the milk to the processing centers within the critical four hours after milking. More than half of the milk spoil before reaching the final consumer. Since liquid, wholesome milk is unstable under heat, delays render it insipid and unsaleable. Pastoralists do not refrigerate or preserve their milk, therefore, the shelf-life of fresh milk is short, usually less than three hours.
7. The Zimbabwean do not boil the milk either, although boiling will kill the pathogen and increase the self-life of milk to eight hours.
8. Rural inhabitants who do not have refrigerators ferment their milk. More than seventy percent of the milk is converted into sour milk; thirteen percent is drunk fresh; and seven percent is used to make ghee, cheese, and butter. Fresh, liquid milk can only be used by urban residents who use refrigerators. Milk producers cannot sell fresh, wholesome milk except by request. Even then, the milk must be delivered in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat that can render the milk sully.
9. The Zimbabwean use unsanitary methods of milking. They use bare hands and unsterilized containers for processing, this should be characterised under lack of equipments. This is oneof the major challenges faced by dairy industry in Zimbabwe.
Lack of knowledge is also among this category. The cow’s breast is not bathed before milking and flies can be seen jumping into the milk calabash. Often also the milk sick cows. The use dirty water from rivers and streams to dilute the milk. The lapses in hygienic practices result in milk-borne diseases, especially among urban residents who drink fresh milk from the cow. Milk-borne zoonoses are, however, rare in
the rural areas because the milk is fermented and the lactic acid produced by fermentation helps destroy the harmful coliform and salmonella. Products from dairy plants often contain impermissible amounts of residues of chemical acaricides, herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics.
Milk from cows that have had intensive veterinary care may contain high doses of veterinary drugs, especially after immunization. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe seldom tests for drugs or inspects dairy products from local herds and dairy plants. Traces of these chemicals, therefore, may he high enough to pose potential dangers to human health.
10. Competition with imported milk, breakdown of the cooling system, erratic supply of pasteurized milk by the producers, adverse markets, and bad management hamper the performance of the dairy firms. Most of these firms cannot get the minimum one thousand liters of wholesome, liquid milk per day. Many dairy firms, like the one at Vom, have liquidated voluntarily or have privatized because they cannot overcome these obstacles. To supplement periodic shortages of milk and to keep the plants running, some dairy industries import powdered milk and use it in processing. Some plants even breed their own high-yielding milk cows.
The cost per liter of the milk from these firms is however so high that the industries operate at a loss. The industries fold up frequently because they cannot compete in a price-sensitive marketplace.
These are the challenges and problems faced by dairy industry in Zimbabwe.