The Diary Association of Zambia (DAZ) says bulky imports of cheap milk and milk products from neighbouring countries has brought unfair competition and subsequently hindered the ultimate growth of the industry in the country.

DAZ director Borwell Chiyabi said in an interview that milk processors are forced to dump raw milk after failing to make sales as the industry has an influx of cheap imported milk.

“There are pressing issues affecting our industry that need the Ministry’s [of Agriculture] urgent intervention. Number one; we have in this country an influx of imported dairy, particularly long-life milk, which is seriously affecting our local industry and some processors are forced to dump the raw milk because of failing to sell as a result of unfair competition with the cheap imports, which in the majority of cases are heavily subsidised by the originating country, thereby, making it impossible for our products to compete on our own market. As a country, we have enough capacity to produce long-life milk and, therefore, we don’t need to import milk. This situation of importing bulky and cheap milk products from various countries is slowly reversing the good things that we had achieved as an industry over the years, and we request the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry to assist in any possible way to address this situation,” Chiyabi said.

“Number two, low import duty on milk powder imported in bulk for further processing. As you might be already aware, full cream milk powder currently attracts five per cent duty when imported in bulk for further processing, instead of 25 per cent. Unfortunately, once reconstituted into liquid milk, this milk powder directly competes and displaces locally-produced raw milk, thereby, slowing down growth and empowerment creation. We request the good office of the Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry to assist in resolving this matter by seriously addressing this long-outstanding issue, which we have been submitting to the Ministry of Finance for possible consideration in the national budget. Without the Ministry’s indulgence in this matter, it will be very difficult for the industry to grow. We might get the help, but it will still be difficult for the industry to grow that is why we need help in addressing this matter sooner than later.”

He said the milk products imported from neighbouring countries are heavily subsidised, and as such, the local products have failed to compete.

“And like I had said earlier, these products are heavily subsidised in the countries of origin, while ours here are not. This means stiff competition, but our friend’s milk products already have an advantage over the ones produced here. These are challenges that can only be addressed by the Ministry and that is why we seek their indulgence. The Diary Association of Zambia is a membership-based industry Association whose mission is to develop the dairy industry through empowerment, lobbying and partnerships. The core objective of the Association is to promote and protect the interest of its members,” said Chiyabi.

“I should hasten to say most of these members are coming from the rural areas, they are farmers. By default, the dairy industry operates in the rural areas; you cannot see a dairy farm along Cairo Road. So, the core objective, as I said, is to protect the members’ interest in their capacities as dairy producers, dairy processors, diary input and equipment suppliers, and others with an interest in the industry. We are very grateful for any support extended to out small-holders’ category. You will also note that Zambia has made great strides in applying itself to the standards governing the dairy industry.”