Take more cheese and butter to boost farming, public told
Kenyans have been asked to take more high-value milk products such as cheese, yoghurt and butter to cure the perennial problem of glut that sees farmers throwing away their produce.
Andrew Muleki, a livestock production manager at the Heifer International-led Kenya Market Dairy Supply Chain Project (KEMDAP), which is in partnership with New KCC and Tetra Laval, said more intake of the high value products will help mop up excess milk in the market, putting more money in farmers’ pockets.
Farmers are currently grappling with a glut, which has led to very low prices, with some processors offering Sh25 per litre.
“Increase in market for the products will cure most of the problems farmers are facing. Our project is working towards this goal,” he said.
Other partners in the four-year project funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) are Food for Development Office (FfDO) and Tetra Pak Kenya (Tetra Pak).
The project, now in its second year, has reached 20,000 farmers in the North Rift (Nandi, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties) and 10,000 in Upper Eastern Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.
“We designed these interventions with a sole purpose of increasing the quality and quantity of milk produced by farmers. We achieved this by building strong dairy supply chains and partnerships,” said Agnes Kavatha, the project manager.
Kabiyet and Mburugu Dairy Cooperatives in Nandi and Embu counties, respectively, started yoghurt processing to handle excess volumes and diversify revenues streams.
“We have started by targeting the local market and hopefully we can expand to other markets,” said Kennedy Njagi, the manager Mburugu Dairy Cooperative.
At Katheri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society in Meru, farmers have seen improvement in milk production in the last 11 months thanks to KEMDAP interventions.
Paul Kirimi, the society manager, said the knowledge gained from the project officers has helped to increase the delivery of milk from 5,500 litres per day in January to 10,500 litres per day, with an average yield of seven litres per cow, per day.
Philip Pyeko, who is in-charge of raw milk procurement and extension services at the New KCC, says the processor has received increased volumes.
Muleki said to avoid duplication, the initiative has partnered with county governments of Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet.
“Other areas of collaboration include mentoring and training of dairy farm assistants by the county veterinary officers on animal health services,” Muleki said.
Kenya’s dairy sector grew by 18.4 per cent in 2018, with milk delivered for processing rising to 634.3 million litres from 535.7 million litres in 2017, according to the latest economic survey, reflecting the efforts made by different actors in the dairy value chain among them development partners and dairy processors.
Cattle farmers exposed as Icipe ends project to fight deadly livestock disease
For Rahab Gitau, 66, a dairy cow, an Ayrshire, has been the main source of income and food.
The cow was donated to her in June in a project to empower communities by the Kwale County government. While some of the cows given to her neighbours died due to diseases, Rahab went out of her way to ensure the animal survived.
“I maintained good hygiene, gave them sufficient feeds and I have an on-call veterinarian who comes to check it regularly. It recently calved and I am now milking eight litres in a day,” she said. She sells a litre of milk at Sh100.
Rahab also credits the survival of her animal to a programme by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) to fight tsetse flies using a collar repellent technology.
In the technology that targeted 10,000 farmers, an animal was fitted with a repellent that repulses tsetse flies keeping it safe.
Some farmers have also been using shade nets introduced by the Kenya Tsetse and Tryponosomiasis Eradication Council (KENTTEC), which keeps the flies at bay. The Icipe project, has however, came to an end leaving farmers vulnerable.
“The programme has ended due to lack of funds. We now have a problem, it is a big issue,” said KENTTEC head of the technical department Daniel Gamba.
He said KENTTEC will hold a meeting with other stakeholders to address the matter and probably fill the gap.
The council’s board chairman, Dr Robert Monda, said there is a need for the population of all animals affected to be protected.
“We need to understand what population of the animals we are targeting so that we can prevent an attack by the disease,” said Dr Monda.