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Trends in milk marketing for small scale producers in Zambia

1. Introduction

G.B.M. Phiri
Ministry of Agriculture, Lusaka, Zambia


There are four main categories of milk producers:

1. Large commercial farmers
2. State dairies
3. Emergent dairy farmers (small scale)
4. Traditional farmers.

Formal milk marketing is practices by commercial farmers, state dairies and partially the emergent farmers. There is no formal milk marketing practised by the traditional farmers in general. However, of late there is an increasing volume of milk being formally marketed by emergent farmers, particularly in the last three years, presumably due to the increasing number of new entrants into the dairy farming world and due to the economic pressure, forcing the people to look for new areas of income generation activities.

Milk marketing trends are presented in figures.

1. Introduction

Commercial milk production in Zambia is becoming increasingly part of major aspect of income generation activities. At the time of independence in 1964, this economic activity was exclusively the domain of commercial farmers.

In general, the Dairy sector comprises four sub-sector:

(i) Commercial
(ii) State
(iii) Small scale emergent
(iv) Traditional

The last two have gradually increased their contribution to the commercial milk production, especially from late seventies. Milk production in the traditional sector is undertaken mainly as a source of nutrition, but the persistent drought in the past 4 years or so, is forcing the natural population to trade milk more for income generation.

The main source of milk is from large ruminants. Consumption of milk from small ruminants is insignificant for livestock population see table 1.

Form 1991, the government has introduced liberalisation of the economy. With this in mind, many parastatals are being privatised. There are more individual organisations being interested in milk marketing, especially at small scale (emergent) farmer level.

The National Dairy Workshop, held in 1992, recommended that in order to increase milk production and quality, strategies for implementing dairy policy be improved as follows:

(a) Collection, quality control, marketing and distribution centres be set-up in tradition sector;
(b) Breeding units be set in priority areas;
(c) Credit facilities to farmers be provided at an affordable interest rates;
(d) Specialised dairy extension staff be trained;
(e) More staff, facilities and funds be committed to dairy farming research;
(f) Strict and strong measures for disease prevention and control be instituted.

It was further suggested that, for sustainability, government should only facilitate the establishment of breeding centres by individuals.

With respect to setting-up collection points, it was suggested that a survey of the market be conducted in the tradition sector, where it is felt the production potential can be further exploited.

These recommendations are in line with the present atmosphere of liberalised economy, where greater participation by the producers is sought.


The trend in milk marketing has been one of increased participation by groups of farmers. With the liberalised economy in place, the need for strengthened farmers' participation is even stronger, especially that aspects of collection and transportation to the nearest selling points may no longer be undertaken by government agencies. However, technical backstopping to the farmers group of small scale producers will be required for same time if sustainability of the new approach is to be achieved.


1. Agricultural Statistics Bulletin, 1990: Planning Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

2. Annual Reports, Dairy Settlement Schemes, 1993: Department of Agriculture.

3. Dairy Produced Marketing and Levy (Dairy Produced Prices) (Amendment) Regulations, 1995. Statutory Instruments 1966.

4. Proceedings of the National Dairy Policy Workshop, 1992: Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.


Q. Dr. J. Henriksen

You indicated a clear trend for decreased milk intake by DPB in the three major supplier groups. How has this influenced the sector? Has private people/investors gone into milk processing and marketing?.

Response: Phiri

Because of low price paid by DPB, many commercial farmers started to market their own milk, that is the major reason or the decline in intake.

Q. Dr. G. Sudi

You talked of heifer breeding centres which have not performed well particularly in Tanzania. Why don't you promote heifer marketing - purchase and sell to areas where they are needed.


Breeding unit, in the Southern part of country, produce 300 heifers per year, we thought to have more centres of this kind. But your proposal is welcomed and can be possible, but we might not have control on prices as our target group may not afford the price.

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