Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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National Association of Dairy Farmers

Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe

Congress 2010

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DAIRY FARMERS

REPORT TO CONGRESS 2010

Welcome to the NADF AGM and our second Commodities forum. This year has brought to pass Duff Odendaal, Brian Harvey of Midlands, Mr Mabena of Matabeleland and the tragic death of Dr B G Moyo’s son of Matabeleland. Please will you stand for a minute’s silence to pay our respects to these people who will be remembered by everyone.

It is fantastic to have so many people gathered here with agriculture as their main focus. It’s my third AGM as NADF national chairman so I should be getting good at this. In reality I feel like I have still so much to learn and am honored to have represented this industry and in particular you farmers who I believe are incredibly dynamic and enduring.

Last AGM was our first without a national currency. I don’t think any of us could have envisaged how hard it would be to restructure our lives and businesses to deal with this dollarization. The average milk price paid to farmers has moved 3c in the last twelve months. How can you survive that?

NADF has also been dynamic ensuring its survival. While never loosing focus of our primary purpose we have metamorphasized into something of an NGO. Getting involved with the EU has meant we have helped control animal diseases nationally as well as saving our members and other livestock producer’s money on vaccines. Through the dairy promotions marketing program it has also enabled us to provide better services to our small scale members. We have learnt to deal with donors and can even speak the lingo. In aid circles there are no problems only challenges and opportunities. We don’t work with people we partner them. I believe this experience will stand us in good stead in the future. Zimbabwe will need help to rebuild and we have now set ourselves up to be part of this. On this front I have seen that without doubt it will only be with partnerships and mentoring arrangements between large and small scale famers that agriculture will grow in this country. Donors and government need to get over their hang-ups about supporting commercial enterprises as these are the back bone of production and are key in rebuilding.

I talk of rebuilding but really this has not yet begun. Our national milk production has increased slightly from an all time low of around two million litres to around 3.5 milling litres a month but from the 22m we once produced we have a lot to do. Government has not put in place policy or any frame work to encourage production over importing and trading. We have again this year and in the last month seen productive dairy farms being plundered and destroyed by greedy individuals. Our courts and police force still apply the law selectively. I once again plead to our Government and in particular our Minister to protect what is left of our national herd, infrastructure and skills. These cannot be replaced and are national resources important for our nation’s future.

On some of our farms where there is no or little interference we are trying to focus on production issues. Most herds have seen some improvements in yields and quality. The importance of quality milk has been highlighted with a spot light this year. Farmers that have poor quality milk have found that processors are not only paying less for it but in some cases won’t take it at all. Processors in return have found that the consumer is leaving their product on the shelf in favor of imported product if theirs is not up to standard. We all need to strive this year to rebrand and boost consumer confidence

 

in our local products. Even if Government wanted to and was able to stop imports we cannot force the consumer to buy our products if they don’t taste good, look good or aren’t competitively priced. I am very confident that we can produce the best quality Zimbabwean dairy products if this is our common goal.

To achieve the quality of products demanded by consumers, we the primary producers of milk require an independent laboratory that can give us timely and accurate results for milk tests. Without this essential information, producers cannot make corrective management decisions and equally important payment for our milk is based on these test results. The milk recording scheme needs to be revived as well as the C.A. Accreditation scheme.

Having said this we do need government to provide us with a level playing field. We are coming under attack from dumped, substandard and wrongly labeled products. Dairy services need to jump to life and with their Ministry’s help, stop the inflow and remove these products from the market.

The Rift Valley Fever outbreak in South Africa and subsequent ban on the import of product from there has not been felt in the market. This to me proved that our boarders are porous.

Unbelievably Zambia has stepped up their production and in no time are able to meet all the orders from our supermarkets.

The financial squeeze on the farms has seen an increase again this year of producer processors. If this helps to keep some operations viable it’s a good thing. I just urge these people to ensure they too work towards building consumer confidence with quality operations and product. Farmers must not think that this is the only way to remain viable we must also continue to increase volumes and efficiencies on our farms. Production systems must be revisited and remodeled continuously. While as I am sure the processors will tell us our raw milk price is relatively high I must also highlight the fact that so are nearly all our inputs. Maize is now based on input parity. Cotton by products our main source of protein are being pushed up on a monthly basis. Vet products, dairy equipment and most imports have gone up as the Rand has strengthened. Labor costs have gone up to the point that they could in fact make some farms nonviable.

I am proud to say that once again NADF has been the most active commodity association providing technical and extension services to its members. We have also done what lobbying we could and represented Zimbabwe dairy farmers locally and regionally. Our team of staff is outstanding and we owe them our respect and gratitude. This function is the little piece of the iceberg you can see of the mountain of work that they have done and what they have achieved. The executive members have to varying degrees supported these efforts and I thank them for the time they have given. I would also like to thank the farmers that have attended our training sessions, meetings and who have communicated with us. As chairman I hunger for feedback to let me know what is it you want from NADF. Good attendance at a meeting make all the hours away from my farm worthwhile.

Dr Rachel Stewart and I attended an ESADA meeting in Rwanda in May and it was encouraging to see that a country that has been completely destroyed can rebuild slowly. It also made me realize the value of our commercial dairy industry. We must keep fighting to maintain it.

NDC continues to collect our milk but have had their own challenges to keep an aging fleet in operation. They have taken some big steps to address this recently and I would like to thank Geoff Armand and the team at NDC for their efforts and dedication to our industry.

On behalf of our producers and other industry stakeholders, I thank the MPO for their moral supporta nd their generous donation of their publications, The Dairy Mail, and the Dairy Mail Africa – both very informative for us all.

I thank you all for attending this forum and hope you gain a lot from it. To the team at Red Dane Farming and Ice feed thank you for your unwavering commitment and support.

Thank you

Ajs Kirk

(NADF Chairman)

01 July 2010

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