Dairy farmers in Blantyre on Monday expressed concern over the rising cost for maize husks (madeya), a vital feed component in milk production.
Speaking during an interactive meeting jointly organised by Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet), Heifer International and the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), the farmers said due to the scarcity of maize husks, prices have gone up, making milk production difficult.
A milk producer from Lomosi Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Somba in Blantyre, Esther Montfort, said the price of maize husks has drastically gone up.
“Not long ago, a bag of husks we were buying at less than K1 000. Now it is selling at K2 500. This is just enough to last three days. This leads to low production of milk and the cows also grow thin.
“Although we now have a ready market for milk, this is decreasing our profits as we sell the 10 litres we produce daily at K150 per litre,” she said.
Agreeing with Montfort, Agnes Chabwera of Chunga Village in T/A Somba said although she has profited from milk production, the scarcity of husks emanating from maize shortage is a problem.
According to an artificial insemination expert in Mpemba, Blantyre, Luka Thumba, maize husks are important in milk production as they supplement the feed.
“Dairy cows are supposed to have 90 kilogrammes of fodder and at least four kilogrammes of husks. The husks are important for milk production. We are trying to get dregs from opaque beer manufacturers, which will help replace the husks,” he said.
According to a 2015 CisaNet study on Milk and Milk Products Quality and Standards, expensive feed is one of the policy issues negatively affecting the country’s dairy industry.