Malawi – Milk Producers Association of Malawi (MMPA) are complaining that the cost of production of milk has increased by 36% following the rise of maize prices and persistent electricity load shedding in the country.

According to Herbert Chagona, the national director of MMPA, the production cost of one litre of milk has grown from MK148(US$0.15) to MK202 (US$0.20).

This surge is mainly attributed to factors such as the increase in maize prices which in turn decreases the supply of maize husks to dairy farmers who use it as animal feed.

“The rise in the price of maize means many people will not be able to buy the required quantities of maize. This has affected dairy farmers as the supply of maize husks (madeya) is low and scarce, as a result, the prices have increased,” said Chagona.

A 50kg bag of maize currently costs between MK13,000 (US$12.79) and MK14,000 (US$13.7) compared to the MK6,5000 (US$6.39) it was going for during the same period last year.

According to FAO, the upward curvature of maize prices is anticipated to persist until the start of the next harvest period in April at least.

Another factor negatively affecting dairy production in the nation is the increased load shedding which began in January last year following the destruction of the Kapichira Hydro Power Plant.

According to Herbert Chagona, the energy crisis, punctuated by frequent power outages, is negatively affecting the whole milk cold chain as farmers are incurring additional costs to buy fuel for generators to cool their milk.

The extra costs consequently drive up production costs as it is reported to take approximately 6 hours to cool harvested milk from 36℃ to the recommended 4℃.

The current problems add to other problems affecting the country’s dairy sector such as poor breeds, a shortage of dairy cows in the rural regions of the country, and outdated and incomplete cooling equipment in milk-bulking groups.

Still, Malawi has made some progress in ramping up its milk production. According to a situation analysis report by the MMPA, the domestic dairy production in 2021 was 45.6 million litres, valued at MK9.6 billion (US$9.4M).

This was an 8.5% increase from the 42 million litres produced in 2020, which fell short of the market demand and still does.

Consumption is however low and remains one of the lowest consumption rates of milk per capita in Africa, according to data from WHO.

According to data from WHO, consumption is estimated at 6 kg per year (2013), significantly lower than the 200 kg per capita per year the WHO recommends.

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