Re-think dairy policy
Posted Saturday, April 21 2012 at 17:48
The country is in the grip of a severe milk shortage that has seen prices hit unprecedented levels.
While it is understandable that the dry spell resulted in diminished pasture, leading to low milk production, there are indications that this predictable shortage can easily be surmounted by transferring appropriate technology for cattle feed harvest and storage to dairy farmers.
As we report else in this newspaper, this technology is cheap and easy to adopt, and it can ensure consistent milk supply throughout the year.
What is emerging is that the Ministry of Livestock Development is grossly underfunded, to the extent that dairy farmers have been largely left to their own devices in the face of adverse weather conditions.
At the heart of the matter is the near total absence of extension services that were primarily designed to equip farmers with the know-how to achieve sustainable and profitable milk production.
The extension services collapsed in the late 1980s when the government implemented the now widely discredited structural adjustment programmes prescribed by the International Monetary Fund that saw a freeze on the hiring of certain cadres, among them extension officers.
If there ever was a time to re-think that policy, that time is now.