Smallholder dairy production and marketing in Zimbabwe: a socio-economic study of the Gokwe, Rusitu and Marirangwe dairy development projects
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Focus on agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a shift towards the smallholder sector, which is home and employment provider to more than 70 percent of the population. However, on-the-ground realities and the viability status of enterprises within this sector remain largely un-probed research areas. This paper, which is based on case studies of three dairy development projects in Zimbabwe, presents results of a socio-economic analysis of the real state, constraints and opportunities vis a vis the performance of the smallholder dairy sector. Through a Gross Margin Analysis at farm level, the study established that smallholder dairying in Zimbabwe is hardly viable. Identified constraints to production include labour bottlenecks, an inadequate feed base, poor breeding practices and production inefficiencies. However, problems arising from limited markets, narrow product bases, recurrent droughts and stringent economic reforms have had more devastating effects on viability in the smallholder daily sector. Established opportunities for improvement include the production and utilization of home-grown feeds, appropriate mechanisation, use of a controlled and well targeted breeding programme, aiming at economic and efficient production, as well as the re-integration of technical and socio-economic issues in rural development programmes in order to achieve sustained rural development.