Dairy production in the first quarter of 2018 has been hampered by the shortage of foreign currency and the prevalence of tick -borne diseases, businessdigest has learnt.
Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) chairman Emmanuel Zimbandu told reveald on Tuesday that the cost of drugs and vaccines has crippled the operations of dairy farmers.
“The performance of the first quarter was disturbed by heavy rains which resulted in a lot of challenges which includes tick-borne diseases and this has made it difficult for dairy farmers,” Zimbandu said.
He said the challenge of tick-borne diseases has been aggravated by the high cost of drugs and vaccines and the acute shortage of foreign currency.
“The problem of trying to get rid of the problem of ticks is becoming a challenge and will reduce milk production,” Zimbandu said.
He added that the shortage of foreign currency has resulted in farmers failing to access critical vaccines and drugs. This, he said, has resulted in the loss of dairy cows to various diseases.
Zimbandu said although several banks have committed to providing funding for dairy farmers, high interest rates have discouraged them from taking out the loans.
Milk production levels have dramatically plummeted from the early 1990s peak of 260 million litres per year to between 50 million and 65 million litres currently, as the industry struggles to recover from the devastating impact of the chaotic land reform programme and economic turmoil.
The country’s dairy herd has plunged from a high of more than 119 000 cows to just over 26 000 in the period between 1987 and 2015, according to statistics by ZADF.
The statistics also showed that there has been a drop in registered dairy farmers during the period with the number dropping from 559 in 1987 to just 199 in 2013. In 2015, the number of registered dairy farmers was 203.