Blantyre – Population growth is outpacing Malawian farmers’ capacity to meet beef and dairy demands, Animal Breeding Professor in the Department of Animal Science at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Timothy Gondwe says.
Prof Gondwe said the country’s total cattle stock meant five Malawians had to share one cow per year. Malawi’s population is 17 million.
“This means that, if we do not to retain some for breeding, we would eat all animals in a year and not meet demand,” Prof Gondwe said, adding that at current production rates it would take more than 10 years to reach a 1:1 ratio.
The livestock expert observed that technical aspects of farm operations, government policies and regulatory mechanisms were all contributing to a low livestock population.
Interventions to increase the productivity of indigenous livestock varieties and to introduce exotic breeds are being counteracted by lack of technologies, limited training and inadequate research, as well as lack of finances and too few government extension workers.
Prof Gondwe said, “With very few large-scale commercial producers, the livestock industry has numerous and lucrative opportunities for investors.”
He said Malawi’s climate was favourable for livestock production, and called for fair livestock trading practices and introduction of technologies that fostered and transformed small-holder production.
“We need to enhance human resources capacity in livestock research, extension and agribusiness,” he said.
Mr Pat Boland, CEO of the Rural Poultry Centre, said meat consumption had risen over the past 10 years, and encouraged public-private partnerships to boost production.
“Malawi has a huge scope for export of livestock and livestock products,” he said.
He said rural livestock production could immediately improve through investment in energy, transport, inputs and market access.
Mr Boland urged the government to emphasise training and education of farmers in animal production.
“With proper training in technical aspects and business management, these enterprises can bring a measure of economic prosperity to smaller communities,” he said.