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September 07, 2008

Malawian dairy farmers seek new milk marketing strategies

Dairy producers in Malawi say new strategies such as marketing milk as a soft drink should be put in place if consumption of milk is to increase.
In his presentation, Jason Agar—a consultant with Kadale Associates—noted that currently the quality of pasteurised milk was still too variable at point of sale and that distribution or availability is a major weakness, particularly outside the urban areas. He said this calls for more innovative distribution methods.This suggestion comes against the background of declining prices of milk offered to local farmers at a time when demand for the product continues to rise in the country.
A visiting expert on diary industry from Kenya, Kipkirui Langat—who is the executive director for the East and Southern Africa Dairy Association—told a two-day National Dairy Symposium in Blantyre on Monday that unless new ways of marketing milk are found and implemented quickly the price for milk will never go up. He said the result was that most dairy farmers will abandon the sector.
Langat said in Kenya farmers are able to add value to their raw product which enables them to sell milk at better prices. He also advised farmers to improve on the quality of milk they sell to processors, saying most farmers add water to the milk to increase volumes of the commodity.
"So far, preference exists for powders and imported long life [milk] among consumers and retailers. There is need to promote more and distribute better raw milk [loose and packaged] preferred by some low income consumers. Milk could also be promoted or sold as a ‘soft’ drink like Coke and Fanta," said Agar, a consultant. He noted that 50 percent of dairy products consumed by Malawians are imported.
Secretary for Agriculture and Food Security Andrew Daudi, speaking at the opening of the symposium, said currently Malawi is the lowest milk producer and consumer of dairy products in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, with milk consumption at five litres per capita against the recommended 80 litres per capita and the World Health Organisation’s 200 litres per capita.
"We want quality to improve. Pricing issues should be ironed out and look at developing a strategic plan for the growth of the industry," said Daudi.
Malawi so far produces 35 million tonnes of milk annually. The country has 6,000 registered farmers with about 30,000 dairy cows.
The Nation

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