Dairy farmers from the Northern Region have bemoaned the absence of dairy processors in the region, a situation which is leading to losses of milk.
This comes amid concerns of poor prices and fresh milk imports flooding the local market.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mpoto Dairy Association manager Edward Nyirenda said farmers under the association lose about 45 000 litres of milk monthly due to lack of dairy processors.
He said the sole dairy processor in the region stopped buying milk from the farmers in 2010, leaving them at the mercy of vendors.
Nyirenda, however, said although the vendors are a solution to the farmers’ woes, the state of the milk might be compromised by the time it reaches the consumer.
“This poses a health risk to consumers as the milk is not certified by Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) while when it is processed by local milk processors, consumers are assured of quality,” said Nyirenda.
He said farmers under the association acquired a machine to process 1 000 litres of milk daily which, unfortunately it is down and chances of repairing it are minimal.
Nyirenda further said the association also engaged a Lilongwe dairy processor who unfortunately prefers the Southern Region, claiming the Northern Region is far and has low milk production.
Chairperson of Lusangazi Dairy Farmers Cooperative, Hesco Banda said his cooperative loses about 6 000 litres of milk a month.
In an interview last Thursday on the sidelines of a gross margin analysis meeting with Mzimba dairy farmers organised by Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet), Heifer International and Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) Banda said the vendors are not as reliable as a processor would be.
“There are times they buy milk on loan when times are hard, and with the current state of the economy most vendors are struggling; hence, negatively affecting our market as well,” he said.
Banda, whose cooperative has 135 dairy farmers, said the group produces about 14 000 litres monthly with an average of 10 litres a day per farmer.
According to statistics from Malawi Milk Producers Association (MMPA) last year, the country produced 35 million litres with the Northern Region contributing two percent from its eight milk bulking groups.