‘One cow, one family’
Lilongwe – President Joyce Banda has launched an initiative in south-eastern Malawi that seeks to ensure each family has at least one cow.
She said the aim is to empower vulnerable households that do not own livestock.
“The programme … has identified vulnerable groups particularly women who benefit through increased household incomes and diversified food sources.
She said this would benefit the national economy “through the increased production and reduced imports of meat and meat products”.
Malawi’s livestock sector contributes 11 percent of GDP and about 38 percent of agricultural production to the national economy.
The industry provides meat, eggs, milk and milk products.
President Banda said her government had bought 50 dairy cows from South Africa to boost a livestock sector that is short of 5 000 to 6 000 milk-producing beasts.
One estimate says Malawi’s milk per capita consumption is five litres against WHO recommendations that a person should take 220 litres of milk in a year.
There has been some growth in the livestock sector.
President Banda said, “For instance, I am informed that the cattle population, which some five to six years ago was at 650 000 … has now gone up to 1.2 million.
“Three years ago the country had only 3.4 million goats, but the number has currently gone up to over 5.2 million which is a significant increase indeed.”
She said poultry production was also on the rise, with the number of chickens growing from 12.8 million in 1996 to 58 million in 2012.
Under the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction, the government has distributed 9 500 goats and sheep to 156 groups across Malawi.
Small-scale farmers on 6.1 million hectares of land keep an estimated 80 percent of the livestock population.
Of the 31 large-scale dairy farms in Malawi, 22 are privately-owned and the rest are in government hands.
There are 4 000 milk cows, mostly Friesian, Holstein, Ayrshire and Jersey and most are concentrated in southern Malawi.
A 1992/93 survey showed that nine percent of farming families own cattle.