By Chilungamo Missi
Thyolo, September 24, Mana: Dairy farmers in Thyolo have said they are operating at a loss due to frequent power outages which have affected their milk storage process.
The farmers made the remarks on Friday when Malawi Local Government’s Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE) Programme officials conducted a media tour to appreciate how the programme is set to address challenges which rural farmers face.
In an interview, Treasurer for Mangunda Milk Bulking Group in Sakalika Village, Traditional Authority (TA) Nanseta in the district said since January they have thrown away almost 80 000 litres of bad milk due to blackouts.
“We buy milk at K230 per litre, which means we have lost almost K18 million since January which is a huge brawl to farmers who are striving every day to feed their cattle to produce milk,” he said.
A member for Namahoya Milk Bulking Centre in Mitabali Village, TA Chimaliro in Thyolo, Mary Lipenga said sometimes their milk was not bought because of power outages since the bulking centre does not have power back-up to run the refrigerators, a situation which leaves farmers stranded.
Weighing in, TRADE Programme spokesperson, Oscar Ulili acknowledged the challenges dairy farmers are meeting, saying the programme was set to address such challenges.
“TRADE programme is to help farmers do farming as a business; dairy farmers are supposed to have good facilities to store their milk. In other areas, they completely have no electricity.
TRADE will build new milk bulking centres which will be functioning using other alternatives like solar energy in case of electricity problems,” he said.
Ulili added that,“We are grouping farmers and empowering them, we will give them grants through Agricultural Commercialization Innovation Fund (ACIF) if they come up with good business ideas.”
TRADE is a Government of Malawi six-year initiative whose overall goal is to contribute to improved sustainable livelihoods of rural people in Malawi through value chain commercialization and resilience of rural poor and smallholder farmers.