Malawi: Robert Chilunga makes a success of dairy farming (by Norman Fulatira for Farm Radio Weekly in Malawi)

| September 19, 2011

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Robert Chilunga completed his School Certificate in 1997, then went to town in search of employment. But to no avail. He felt lost and hopeless.

He thought about starting his own business. Mr. Chilunga lives near Zomba, in southeast Malawi. For farmers like him, bank loans are scarce and difficult to access. Banks demand hefty collateral, and Mr. Chilunga could not get a loan to start a business.

To make ends meet, he started raising poultry and rabbits. He is now a dairy farmer with nine cows − but not by choice. He explains, “It was lack of formal employment that prompted me to venture into keeping chickens and later rabbits. Eventually, I raised some money which helped me buy a heifer. That was the beginning of my keeping dairy cows.”

Mr. Chilunga recalls how two veterinarians sent him to a livestock training course at the Dwambazi Livestock Training Centre in Malawi’s Central region in 1998. At the training, Mr. Chilunga learned skills such as conducting artificial inseminations, feeding livestock, and preventing and treating disease. After the training, he took up dairy farming full-time.

Now Mr. Chilunga owns a modern three-bedroom house. He is waiting to be connected to the electricity supply and intends to buy a refrigerator. He sees electricity as the gateway to a better life.

Raymond Mphuwa lives in Ndola Township and buys milk from Mr. Chilunga. He describes how Mr. Chilunga managed to shake off the curse of poverty as a young man through hard work and vision: “From what I see, his customer base has been growing on a daily basis, and definitely in terms of revenue he has also been growing.” He continues, “I was surprised to learn that he is constructing a mansion in his village.  That’s amazing and beyond the capacity of most of us formally employed here in town.”

Davie Kapasule is another customer. He commended Mr. Chilunga for delivering milk daily, even in adverse weather. He described Mr. Chilunga as a hard-working young man who has excelled beyond people’s expectations.

Mr. Chilunga currently supplies more than 30 litres of milk every day to one part of Zomba town. He intends to become the leading supplier of fresh milk to the entire town. He employs three young men from his village to help him manage his livestock and sell milk. He plans to create meaningful employment for more youths in his area.

Mr. Chilunga also wants to link up with milk processing companies in Blantyre to explore the possibility of establishing a processing unit. He would be the major supplier of unprocessed milk to the facility.

Mr. Chilunga is married with one child. His advice to young people is not to despair but to turn seeming misfortunes into financial fortunes, and to work hard in the field of their choice. He suggests that the first thing young people should do after completing their education is to look around their local area to see what others are not doing. Then explore ways to venture into that area.