By Faith Chimutsa
African Business Women Association (ABWA) and the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT) join the rest of the world to commemorate the World Milk day, this Wednesday.
The event ran concurrently with the commissioning of the ABWA dairy processing plant at ABWA farm in Domboshava, Chiriseri area.
The African Business Women Association and the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry stakeholders which include government, processors, farmers and consumers came together to celebrate this day in style.
The visit, commissioning of the plant and the tour of the dairy scheme gave an opportunity for stakeholders to see the work being done to accelerate climate action and help reduce the dairy sector’s impact on the planet.
The commissioning of the plant was done by the Permanent Secretary for Lands , Agriculture, Fisheries,Water and Rural Development Dr John Basera in absentia and the speech read on his behalf by Ms Rutendo Nyahoda.
“It is my pleasure and honor to officiate at this gathering to celebrate the ‘World Milk Day’ and the commissioning of the ABWA Dairy Processing Plant.
Milk is one of the most popular and important beverages on the planet, we drank it when we’re babies,we drank it when we’re toddlers, we drank it when we’re teens and now we are adults, we continue to drink it.
Milk is an important part of a health balanced diet and this world milk day provides the perfect opportunity to spread the word, let me applaud the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for initiating the World Milk Day in 2001 to actively encourage milk and dairy consumption as part of a daily diet,” said Ms Rutendo Nyahoda.
The dairy industry contributes to food and nutrition security and thus an important component of NDS1. In Zimbabwe dairy farming forms an integral part of livelihoods of our farming community and with the necessary support can be used as a tool in the government’s drive towards rural transformation into business hubs.
African Business Women Association (ABWA) is a clear demonstration of the transformation being envisaged by government. FAO estimate that around 150 million households (750 million people) are engaged in milk production around the world. Milk consumption in developing countries is expected to increase by 25% by 2025 as a result of population growth and rising incomes.
“Milk production in Zimbabwe has been growing gradually over the years from 37 million litres in 2009 to current figure of 79.6 million litres achieved in the year 2021.
This however falls far short of the 130 million litres per year local demand for the country.and the gap is filled with the imports.
Nyahoda however said the gap between demand versus supply should be seen as a huge opportunity for business in the dairy sector.
“I congratulate ABWA for having grabbed this business opportunity and being party of the journey towards self -sufficiency in milk production and am happy that the local dairy sector working with government has embarked on a number of strategies to improve milk productivity which is currently 13litres/cow/day to the ideal productivity levels of between 18-25litres/cow/day. These strategies include promoting on farm feed production, dairy herd improvement programs, value addition and diversified marketing,” she added.
Milk is a highly nutritious, but also high risk food stuff especially in it’s raw state. Informal marketing of milk constitutes an enormous health hazard which can seriously tarnish the image of milk and its producers, consumers should not buy according to price but quality.
ABWA has taken the steps to minimize the risk of spread of milk borne diseases by establishment of its dairy processing plant that will ensure that milk and milk products are produced, processed, packaged and handled in accordance with the food laws and are safe for human consumption.
The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Dairy Net Zero’ and the Post On Sunday Newspaper however witnessed some of the steps that the local dairy value chain has taken towards reducing the carbon footprint through the use of other sources of green energy like solar,wind and biogas at farm level so as to conserve our environment.
ABWA gave due regard to climate change in their agri-business practices, creating employment in the agricultural sector and initiating transformative corporate social responsibility projects.
Since it’s inception in 2013, it has taken strides in promoting food security and environmental conservation, ABWA has introduced the pooling of resources with Zimbabwe and Africans alike to establish lucrative agricultural projects. The business model has transcended the national boundaries and has seen ABWA establish itself in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria.
The dairy processing plant commissioned is a testament of the organization’s dedication in playing it’s integral part in the development of the dairy industry as it has since begun incorporating manufacturing, value addition and beneficiation. The organisation has paved way for women led initiatives to enter the dairy sector and promote the consumption of dairy products and citizens of Zimbabwe are urged to be ambassadors in promoting the consumption of nutritious food of which milk stands out as Nature’s Most Nearly Perfect Food.