Malawi Milk Producers Association has cited low prices and number of off-takers as well as rising imports of milk powder as some factors hampering their growth.
The concerns come as Malawi yesterday joined the international community in commemorating World Milk Producers Day.
Malawi Milk Producers Association data shows that at K260 (about 26 cents) per litre, milk prices in Malawi still remain the lowest in the region, with South Africa at 44 cents (about K455.84), Zimbabwe at 31 cents (about K321.16) and Zambia at 41 cents (about K424.76).
In an interview yesterday, Malawi Milk Producers Association executive director Herbert Chagona said to improve the situation, there is need to increase off-takers, currently at eight and control imports of milk powder.
He said: “We need more off-takers in the industry. We also have no regulatory body in the milk industry. The liquid milk cannot meet the demand the country needs.
“We need to supplement supply with powdered milk. All we are asking is to control the flow of powdered milk so that it does not crowd out the local milk production and the markets, taking into account that some companies under Malawi Revenue Authority rebate, are repacking the milk into small sachets as small as 20 grammes.”
A milk producer based in Thyolo District, Mike Phiri, said other challenges include the three percent withholding tax which is compelling farmers to sell their milk through informal channels.
“As a result, farmers are not bulking all the milk at the milk bulking groups,” he said.
In 2022, the sector, which directly supports 25 000 dairy farming households and employs more than 6 000 people excluding the farmers, produced 65 million litres of milk, a rise from the 57.6 million litres produced the previous year.
This translates to annual revenue of about K16.9 billion.
However, despite the strides, the milk is not enough to meet demand with consumption at 10 litres per person per year, remaining the lowest in Africa, at 20 litres per capita, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Malawi has 82 000 dairy cows averaging two cows per farmer, according to the Department of Agriculture and Animal Health.