Malawi's livestock trade picks up?

Nation Online, October 23, 2010

Statistics in the Ministry of Trade and Industry indicate a considerable increase in livestock exports and its related products between 2001 and 2008. The improvement has been reflected in a recent policy study conducted by a research consultant, Lawrence Mapemba, who is also lecturer in Agricultural and Applied Economics at Bunda College of Agriculture.

According to the study, titled Agricultural Trade, Rural livelihoods and Trade facilitation, total livestock exports have increased from K20 million (about $132 000) in 2001 to K2 billion (about $13.1 million) in 2008.

Out of the K2 billion worth of exports earned in the year 2008, the statistics show that about K1.6 billion earned from dairy produce, bird eggs, natural honey while K200 000 (about $1 300) was earned from exportation of live animals.

Other products Malawi is exporting to the global market include fish and other aquatic invertebrates and meat."Fish is another product whose export has been increasing since 2001. The fish exported is mainly ornamental. Most of the livestock products are exported to neighbouring countries, namely Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique," read part of the findings.It, however, says Malawi is yet to register substantial changes in exports of livestock products such as meat.

The study was done on behalf of a Geneva-based CUTS International’s project called Fostering Equity and Accountability in the Trading System (Feats) being implemented in Malawi, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Small Scale Livestock Promotion Programme (SSLPP), which is one of the major players in Malawi’s livestock industry, has since acknowledged an improvement in the exportation of livestock to the international market owing to the recent high demand for Malawi’s livestock products.

In an interview on Tuesday, programmes officer for SSLPP, Bennett Lwara, noted that the country’s livestock and related products have been on high demand on the international market, especially in neighbouring countries.

"Like in Zimbabwe their [livestock] industry is currently very bad unlike when the industry was manned by white farmers. This has, therefore, made it necessary for Zimbabwe to import our livestock products," said Lwara adding that Malawi’s production and operational costs for livestock have all stabilised in recent times.

Director of Animal Health and Livestock Development, Wilfred Lipita, said on Wednesday there has been an improvement in livestock production and exports due to increased income levels and population growth, among other factors.

"For example, eight years ago we had 800 thousand cattle and now the number has increased to a million and currently we [have] 4 million goats which is a huge increase," said Lipita.

Mapemba’s study praises a number of measures that government instituted to support the livestock sector, which include provision of technical support to livestock producers through intensification of extension services and designation of livestock products as sensitive sectors.

In 2001, government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry imposed restrictions on the importation of dressed chickens, eggs and milk by limiting issuance of import licenses.The move, local agriculture economists have argued, has helped the country to protect its domestic industries.