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MBABANE – The country has seen dairy imports decrease amounting to 30.14 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the fourth quarter of 2023.

The overall imports in the 2023 final quarter amounted to 9 671 897.14 Kilograms/Litre (Kg/L) and in the first quarter of 2024, the figures dropped to 6 756 647 kg//L. According to recent statistics of dairy imports from the Eswatini Dairy Board (EDB), in the first quarter of 2024 (January – March), margarine and UHT milk were still the top exported products with 1 452 102 and 2 559 929kg/L quantities respectively. It is worth noting that in the final quarter of 2023, the leading exported commodities were margarine, with a quantity amounting to 1 193 345.64/L, followed by UHT milk with a quantity of 5 085 254kg/L. Moreover, the local dairy market is said to be still boasting a lot of potential which needs to be exploited. Yoghurt is one of the fastest growing products produced locally. Pasteurised milk (bulk) also imported in high quantities, which demonstrates the availability of a market that is yet to be exploited.

Other opportunities are available in feed manufacture, which include hay making and dairy feed manufacturing. The industry boasts of various investment opportunities and encourages investment into it. In a bid to protect the dairy industry, back in 2020; EDB proposed a 40 per cent import levy which was supposed to kick in the following year. EDB had proposed that the import levy be charged on all dairy products which are sufficiently produced locally, such as emasi (sour milk), yoghurt, fresh milk and fresh cream. Furthermore, the board continues to take strides towards creating an enabling and conducive environment for investors looking to venture in any stage of the dairy industry value chain. As the industry continues to grow, investments across the value chain are very important to ensure that the industry remains competitive. According to a statement by the board, businesses wishing to invest in the industry should conduct a detailed assessment on local dairy industry and the relevant stakeholders involved; produce a detailed business case on the type of business within the dairy industry that they may be interested in venturing among others.

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