MALAWI – The Malawi Milk Producers Association has criticized the low prices of milk in the country and the rising imports of milk powder, blaming the factors for hampering the growth of the dairy sector in the country.
The concerns rose as Malawi celebrated the commemoration of World Milk Producers Day on June 1, 2023.
According to Malawi Milk Producers Association’s Executive Director, Herbert Chagona, there is a need to improve the situation and control milk powder imports getting into the country.
“We need more off-takers in the industry. We also have no regulatory body in the milk industry. Liquid milk cannot meet the demand the country needs,” he said.
On the other hand, a milk producer, Mike Phiri, added that other challenges affecting the dairy sector include the 3* withholding tax which is compelling farmers to sell their milk through informal channels.
According to data from Malawi Milk Producers Association, milk prices in Malawi remain the lowest in the region with K260 (about 26 cents) per litre.
“We need to supplement the 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, considering that some companies under Malawi Revenue Authority rebate, are repacking the milk into small sachets as small as 20 grammes.”
Earlier this year, the association raised concerns about the steep rise in the cost of milk production which had risen by 36% from MK148 ($0.15) to MK202 ($0.20).
The association reported that the increase had been driven by an increase in maize prices (dairy cattle are fed maize husks as animal feed), the depreciation of the Kwacha since May 2022 and the need to buy fuel for generators because of electricity load-shedding.
“A 50kg bag of maize has almost doubled in price. It currently costs around MK13,500, compared to MK6,5000 in early 2022. Prices are likely to remain high for several months,” MMPA noted.
In 2022, the Malawi dairy 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.