Dairy farmers bemoan punitive taxes, prices


Dairy farmers have said withholding tax on milk and milk products is negatively affecting their earnings.
The famers made their frustrations known when Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, launched Rural Livelihood and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) structures in Thyolo District to benefit farmers in milk bulking groups
“We struggle a lot to source feed for the dairy cows. We don’t know what is happening but we, as farmers, ask the government to come in and help us because the price of dairy feed remains high compared to what we are getting,” said Davis Kachikondo, Chandamale Milk Bulking Centre Chairperson.
Chandamale said it was worrying that farmers are left out when players come up with milk farm-gate prices.
Presently, daily processing companies are buying milk at K165 per litre.
Nantchefu Milk Bulking Centre’s Kondwani Kadzuwa said, much as farmers understand the importance of paying taxes, interested parties, including farmers, should be engaged on such matters.
“The tax remit to buyers is normal, but farmers get a raw deal at the end of the day. There is need for a round table discussion involving all the stakeholders for us to find an amicable solution,” Kadzuwa said.
Close to 4,400 farmers in the programme’s target areas of Thyolo and Blantyre have, so far, benefitted from the programme.
While admitting the farmer’s concerns, Nankhumwa said his ministry would engage the Ministry of Finance to resolve the matter.
“We have taken note of the complaints by the farmers. Possibly, a solution should be found when we engage the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development as they prepare the 2018/19 budget. It is either they scrap the tax off or reduce it,” Nankhumwa said.

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