Malawi’s dairy industry last year registered a 14 percent growth courtesy of donor support, adoption of new milk preservation and dairy cattle breeding technologies.
Malawi Milk Producers Association (Mmpa) national director Herbert Chagona, in a written response to a questionnaire, said milk volumes increased from 66 000 litres per day to 82 000 litres per day while total production for the year stood at 33.5 million litres compared to 29 million litres realised in the previous year.
He said dairy processors had increased the farm gate price from K170 per litre in 2017 to K182 per litre last year; hence, farmers realised more from their milk. This, he said, contributed over K6.1 billion to country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Said Chagona: “For the first time, we have piloted a new technology of hooking milk cooling tanks to solar energy. The technology is effectively cooling milk three times faster than electricity or diesel generators.
“Currently, four milk bulking tanks in Central and Southern regions have been connected to solar power. They are saving close to K130 000 to run the generator to cool the milk for five days.”
While climate change remains an obstacle to the sector, shortage of dairy animals in the country that is currently estimated at 44 000 against a population of 17 million people adds to the woes, he said.
“We have seen diminishing water resources, shortage of livestock feed, increased frequency of disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth disease, east coast fever, lumpy skin and heat stress in animals.
“Escom power load shedding that is making farmers to lose 16 percent of dairy production as many dairy groups in Central and Northern region do not have cooling tanks, is another challenge,” Chagona said.
He also expressed worry that very few donor partners are supporting the dairy value forgetting that investing in dairy value chain would give more sustainable indelible results as its impact is passed on from generation to generation
Agricultural and applied economics expert Derrick Kapolo argued in his 2016 paper titled Exposing the Plight of Malawi’s Dairy Sector for the need to overhaul the sector if meaningful results are to start being registered.
“Convincingly, I feel that the only way we can fully resurrect the sector is to review the 1972 Milk and Milk Products Act so that we open up the selling of milk to other players in the value chain,” he said.n