Ministry of Agriculture has developed a new Livestock Development Policy which seeks to drum up investments in the sector to boost its contribution to the national economy.
There have been concerns that government has not been allocating enough funding in the national budget to adequately support the development of the sector which has been dwindling over the past years.
In an interview on Tuesday, the ministry’s director of animal health and livestock development Patrick Chikungwa said developing the livestock sector further has multiple benefits, including economic development and nutritional security for the population.
He said: “Livestock development is vast. There is need to entice the private sector to participate. We can only do so by ensuring we put in place the right policies such as the new Livestock Development Policy we have developed.
“The new Livestock Development Policy, which we will be launching soon has nine priority areas, including market access, financing and making the sector lucrative in terms of commercial business entity.”
Chikungwa said the livestock sector is lucrative and if well nurtured can contribute to economic growth and support livelihoods of farmers and achieve job creation.
He called for collaborative efforts with non-State actors in the drive to grow the sector.
Statistics from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources indicate that in terms of productivity, livestock sector has remained static and there is a decline in some species, including cattle, goats and chickens as well as in terms of sizes for meat and milk yields.
Luanarprofessor of animal breeding Timothy Gondwe said according to Tropical Livestock Units (TLU), a term that aggregates all livestock into cattle equivalent numbers, Malawi has 6.9 million TLUs.
“At the present human population, this means 2.65 people share one cattle. These statistics need to accelerate towards achieving one or more cattle per person. We believe in diversified livestock, so this cattle shall imply a few goats, chickens and pigs,” he said.
Gondwe said at the current rate of increase, it may take Malawi five years to realise the 1:1 ratio goal, saying the country’s performance in meat, egg and milk production is poor and not desirable.
“Officially, we are over 40 percent below Sadc [Southern African Development Community] per capita goal except in meat which is reaching 24 kilogramme of meat per person per year,” he said.
In the 2021/22 fiscal year, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu ranked agriculture, water development and climate change second in terms of sector allocation giving it K354.8 billion.