Improving dairy production in Malawi: a literature review

Trop Anim Health Prod. 2017 Feb;49(2):251-258. doi: 10.1007/s11250-016-1184-5. Epub 2016 Nov 8.


Milk production in Malawi is stagnating while steadily increasing in neighboring countries. We performed a literature review to identify factors negatively affecting milk production in Malawi and propose potential solutions to overcome the particular constraints. We structured the analysis along the value chain with three major components: upstream providers, on-farm production, and downstream providers. It is shown that the literature strongly focuses on on-farm constraints and most prominently on animal health, breed choice, and milk yield. The literature research did not reveal any reasons specific to Malawi that would hinder an increase in milk production as experienced in neighboring countries. We suggest a focus on crossbreeds accompanied by local breeding programs, which would reduce dependence on imported semen and strengthen the currently unreliable artificial insemination services. In addition, crossbreeds may be better suited than pure breeds for current feeding practices and climate conditions and thus come close to reaching their genetic potential. We conclude that cost advantages of crossbreeds clearly compensate for the lower revenues compared with exotic breeds such as Holstein-Friesian or Jersey.

Keywords: Dairy production; Literature review; Malawi; Milk value chain; Smallholders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Dairying / economics
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Malawi
  • Milk / economics*