It’s been two weeks since I’ve arrived and an update is due. When I arrived in Malawi I met with Malawi Milk Producer’s Association (MMPA). They introduced me to Lilongwe dairy ltd, the biggest milk producer in the country and an industry leader of sorts in a country where the national producer’s association doesn’t wield a lot of power. The milk quality in the country is poor. The industry is stuck in a trap where processors do not pay a good price for milk approx 170 Malawian Kawachas per litre (roughly 34 cents) because the quality of milk is poor, so the farmers are reluctant to invest in better feed, veterinary services, husbandry etc to increase milk quality. In order to combat this, Lilongwe dairy and MMPA are considering a “premium milk program” where if the milk being brought in meets certain microbiological and compositional standards, the farmers are paid a premium on top of the 170 Kawachas. Now a composition premium has already been in use and has seen great success, where the adulteration with water has gone from as high as 30% down to 8%. It is a sign that farmers and bulking groups here respond to incentive. Lilongwe dairy is now rolling out the microbiological premium. They have purchase some rudimentary microbiological supplies and are doing petrifilm testing for total aerobic bacterial count. This has been what I’ve been working in the last couple of days.
I am hoping to leave Lilongwe dairy with a reliable and validated procedure for overall aerobic bacteria count in milk, well trained lab staff and a report with recommendations that they can base their new incentive programs off of.