The country’s dairy sector is one of the most marginalised, the Malawi Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has said, citing minimal participation of donors and inadequate government support.
MMPA national director Herbert Chagona told Business News yesterday that government has not “meaningfully or seriously” invested in the diary sector as it prioritises crops, especially maize and tobacco.
“This background has led to low milk productivity of eight litres per cow per day and the subsequent low per capita consumption of seven litres,” he said.
The per capita milk consumption as recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) is 200 litres per person per year.
“A dollar spent on the dairy value chain today continues to impact on the lives of many in future because of the multiplier effect attached to dairy projects, which other value chains do not have,” said Chagona.
He said investing in the dairy sector gives more sustainable results as its impact is passed on from generation to generation, adding that the dairy cow is not totally dependent on weather as is the case with annual crop interventions.
“Though the beneficiaries in the dairy value chain may be smaller in nature compared to beneficiaries in groundnuts and soya value chains, the impact to support the dairy value chain leaves a positive mark and the results have long-term sustainability,” he said.
Dairy production has huge potential for increased revenues at all levels of the value chain, including farmers, and at a farm gate level, dairy sector gives high gross margins of 40 to 60 percent, according to Chagona.
“Dairy is also a year round income earner for farmers because it provides stable revenue for farmers from milk sales. For example, farmers who have two lactating cows, which produce 20 litres per day. By selling at K130 ($0.30) per litre, farmers are getting K78 000 ($173) per month,” he said.
Chagona asked donors and government to strengthen the capacity of milk bulking groups (MBG) to a level that they can operate mini dairy processing plants to increase profit and per capita milk consumption at community level and nationwide.
He said increased support could invigorate the already established MBGs and supporting processing of dairy and dairy products.
MMPA is a grouping of three associations, namely Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association, Central Region Milk Producers Association and Mpoto Dairy Farmers Association.