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1.1 Introduction
Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy and will continue to be so in the near future. Although agriculture contributes only 11-14% of GDP, the sector provides employment for some 70 percent of the population, and about 60 percent of all raw materials for the industry. About 45 percent of the country’s exports are of agricultural origin (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 2018)
The dairy sector is not to be left out, as it is an essential component of the Zimbabwean agricultural structure. Zimbabwe is the second country after South Africa with an organised dairy industry in Africa (Industrial Development Corporation “IDC” -2018)
The Zimbabwean dairy sector has been facing a variety of challenges, which have limited producing of the various products within their range. This study aims to concentrate on the main issues that have been of greater contribution to the slight limitation in achievement of full capacity to the Dairy sector in Zimbabwe (Annual report for the National Association of Dairy Farmers for the year 1993-NADF, 1993.
1.2 Background to the study
Dairy products have generally become highly demanded products because of their rich nutrition. Consumption of milk has also however increased since the demand of raw milk rose with time.
Large Scale Commercial dairying in Zimbabwe dates back to 1910 when the colonial government took steps to stimulate dairy farming (Muzuva 1989; Mupeta 2000). The government put in place extension and milk production training services. Milk production expanded over the years and this was mainly handled by producer cooperatives and the first milk processing plant was established in Gweru in 1912.
The dairy sector is an important aspect of developing countries in as much as economic growth through agriculture is concerned. However, there are large variations between developed and developing countries.
It is important to note that in developed countries, the dairy sector is comprised of large scale enterprises which are characterized by competitive management systems and high uptake of technology and big capital outlay whereas in the developing countries, the sector is comprised of numerous small-scale dairy farmers (Dairy Barn Systems, 2017).

COUNRTY MILK PRODUCE (kilograms per cow/year)
CHINA 3 700kg
GERMANY 7 100kg
USA 7 100kg
Showing random variations in milk production across the world (EADDP, 2008)

Africa’s top milk producers are Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, South Africa and Algeria. The first four countries mentioned contribute up to 52% of Africa’s total milk production. Zimbabwe is however also still developing in as much as the dairy sector is concerned. This may suggest the need to put more emphasis on the need to focus on factors that may be hindering production because according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade , Zimbabwe is the second country after South Africa with an organised dairy industry in Africa.
Milk production in Zimbabwe is done by both small scale and large-scale dairy farmers. According to the National Association of Dairy Farmers there are about approximately 450 commercial farmers who supply much of milk that makes up for the national milk intake.
In Zimbabwe, the Midlands Province is one of the most dairy active areas since it has several large-scale dairy farmers. The existence of several well established dairy producers in the Midlands Province shows that the area is suitable and may as well meet the requirements of running a dairy enterprise.
Certain reforms have also been suggested by the government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation in conjunction with the National Association of Dairy Farmers. The reforms where aimed at improving technology within the sector, to improve financial services and issuing of loans with reasonable, suitable conditions especially for the small-scale farmers, the reforms were also meant to allow the forces of supply and demand to guide the production, distribution and marketing of various goods and services and therefore promote efficiency and economic growth (World Bank, 2008). Dairy farmers had a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation representatives in October 2017 and agreed that given the reforms were initiated, dairy production should rise by 2022.
The Zimbabwean dairy primary production is divided into 2 sectors which are namely the Large Scale Dairy farming and Small Scale Dairy farming. Herd size, which generally determines scale of operations, is a key variable while channels used determined the marketing output. The large scale dairy sector started in a formally distinguishable manner in 1910 on large farms with cows of high yield and their hybrids. The land reform programme from the year 2000 forced large scale dairy farms to sell their dairy herds as they were no longer operational. Large scale dairying was also characterized by individual famers with an ownership of 10 or lactating cows at any given time. Zimbabwean smallholder dairying was initiated after independence by the Dairy Marketing Board (now Dairibord Zimbabwe Private Limited) before the programme was handed over to the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) under the Dairy Development Programme (DDP). Smallholder dairying in Zimbabwe is usually characterized by small herds of average 3 cows per farmer and predominant use of the informal market for the sale of milk.

Gweru urban as a dairy productive district
The Gweru urban district is an area of Zimbabwe which is highly active in as far as the dairy sector is concerned. Gweru is part of the Midlands province which is a dairy active province.
This is mainly because the Midlands Province is located in the periphery of Natural region 5.

The Zimbabwean dairy sector has the capacity to produce more than it is currently producing as shown by the table below

Trends in the large scale dairy sub-sector ? Source: NADF, 2012
From the table, it is clear that production in the dairy sector reduced with a reduction of farmers, characterized by a massive exodus of experienced farmers who had knowledge on how to make use of the qualities possessed by Zimbabwe’s natural agricultural environment and hence massive reduction of milk produced in the 12years. A combination of factors constrain dairy production and productivity. Some of the main problems relate to breed quality with local bulls interfering with herd management, lack of improved feed, lack of easy access to medicines resulting in failure to deal with diseases like mastitis and low productivity.
Cost of feed, production resources, and market trends have also led to uneven profitability trends leading to financial challenges especially for the small holder farmers or small-scale producers. The lack of adequate/required technology has also been a strong factor affecting production. All these factors have resulted in poor performance of the sector as they all result in financial distress.
The numbers of producers and volumes of milk produced shows that the country has lost its self-sufficiency in dairy products and currently depends on imports. The dairy herd is estimated at between 26 000 and 40 000 cows which excludes beef and draft milking cows that communal and resettlement households use for home consumption and local distribution/sale (SNV, 2016)
This therefore calls for the need to look or put focus on the factors that are affecting dairy production in Zimbabwe.

The main objective of this study is to establish or consider the factors that are affecting dairy production by focusing on the Gweru urban and its surrounding farmers since it is very active in as much as the enterprise is concerned:
The research looks to address the following objectives
i. To determine the characteristics of Dairy farmers in Gweru
ii. To consider the extent to which production resources or factors of production affect dairy production in Zimbabwe.
iii. To determine the extent to which dairy production systems (marketing and distribution of product) affect production of dairy
Products in Zimbabwe. The systems may include the payment terms and marketing of the products.

i. What are the main qualities of dairy farmers?
ii. To what extent do production resources or factors of production affect production of dairy products in Zimbabwe?
iii. To what extent does dairy the production system affect production of dairy products in Zimbabwe.

The intention of this study was to expose or bring out the factors that are affecting dairy production or production of dairy products in Zimbabwe by focusing on the Gweru Urban district/constituency as a representation of the nation, since the area seems to flourish in as much as the dairy enterprise is concerned.
To the Zimbabwe dairy farmers, the study provides an insight on the factors affecting their production. To the farmers/producers, the study will also assist in improvement of management within their systems.
To the National Association of Dairy Farmers, the study aims at providing awareness on what policies they should lobby for and how they can be of much assistance to the farmers especially the small-scale farmers.
To the government of Zimbabwe, the study aims at providing the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation a view of the state of the dairy sector in Zimbabwe. It will give the government an appreciation of the factors that are affecting the sector especially how the finance aspect has affected and how it can intervene and how it may intervene.
To potential investors, the study will provide information that will assist by informing the investor on what to be on the watch for. Potential investors will further use the findings as a base to start their own analysis of the dairy industry in general. The research findings will be a treasure for the competitors in the dairy industry.