New fund excites dairy farmers
Harare (New Ziana) – Dairy farmers are excited at the prospect of a dedicated, cheaper financing model for the sector after government resolved to recapitalize the Dairy Revitalisation Fund (DRF) through imposition of a five percent levy on all imported milk products.
Although the farmers are yet to access the fund, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) chairperson, Earnest Muzorewa said when government finalises the fund utilization modalities, it will boost dairy development as the country moves towards meeting its 2025 national milk production target of 150 million litres.
“Critical to diary sector’s ability to reach its 2025 target of producing 150 million litres is the access to affordable finance for capital growth. Current interest rates or financial products available on the market are too high and short term, of which dairy operations require medium to long term funds at affordable interest rates for capital expenditure,” he said.
“Furthermore, farmers are lobbying for tax incentives such as special initial tax allowances to farmers who invest in dairy value chain priority areas such as mechanisation (tractors, silage cutters, hay bailing kits, milking machines and milk tanks) – ease of importation by ensuring foreign currency availability to farmers who intend to import.”
To complement government efforts, Muzorewa said ZADF had developed plans targeted at mitigating challenges and intensifying growth of raw milk production that include engaging milk processors to pay competitive and profitable milk producer prices, heifer breeding programme using sexed semen aimed at increasing the milking herd and good genetics, promoting small scale to become medium scale producers while medium scale producers become large scale producers.
Large scale producers would be helped to turn their operations into mega dairies.
ZADF is also working with animal nutritionists in formulating on-farm home grown feeds as a strategy of reducing cost of stock feed, while a dairy research and development desk had been set up to coordinate and strengthen collaborations with the private sector such as input suppliers, higher and tertiary institutions, government research station and farmers to develop solutions to dairy through targeted research.