NYAHURURU, Kenya, Mar 27 – Kenyan dairy farmers earned over Sh2 billion in 2008 from sale of milk to State-owned New KCC.
According to the company’s Managing Director Francis Mwangi, most of the milk was sold to the international market hence the high income to the farmers who are now looking into dairy cattle investments as compared to other sectors of the economy.
He encouraged more farmers to channel their milk to the New KCC saying the company was working to improve its productivity.
He said farmers in Nyandarua alone received over half a million shillings and encouraged the farmers to invest in high quality dairy animals and use of proper and efficient breeding methods so as to boost their productivity.
Speaking in Nyahururu on Thursday during a farmers’ field day at the Nyahururu factory grounds, he said the factory is currently receiving about 80,000 litres of milk per day saying this was way below the expected capacity of over 160,000 litres capacity.
He, however, expressed optimism that the production would increase owing to the fact that the company is installing modernised refrigeration machines.
Mr Mwangi said already a refrigeration machine worth about Sh100 million has been installed at the Nyahururu factory with a capacity to process UHT milk to up to 160,000 litres per day.
He however regretted that dairy farmers in parts of Rift Valley, Central and Eastern provinces have decried the massive exploitation by middlemen in the dairy sector as they buy the produce at very low prices.
The MD said the farmers have complained that the brokers have mostly invaded the areas where milk processors have not been able to access them due to impassable road infrastructure.
Although dairy farming has for the last few years been a lucrative business in the agricultural sector, the farmers’ are now fearing exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen.
Mr Mwangi said the battle now appears to be tougher as milk processors engage each other in a vicious competition for milk adding that this needs urgent attention by the government owing to the fact that most farmers are finding it difficult to buy dairy inputs as inflation rate is also high while their animals are not giving enough to sustain themselves.
He observed that though New KCC enjoys a huge market outreach, it may not be smooth sailing as some competitors are using unethical means to woo farmers.
He said the fast rise in demand and the fact that milk prices are becoming competitive; it has made it difficult for the dairy farmers in the region to satisfy demands for commercial sales.
To maintain the track, the New KCC is opening up more collection points, cooling plants and distribution centres adding that this will be achieved if rural access roads are improved in major potential areas which will also stimulate milk production.
“To expand on dairy production, we have embarked on a vigorous awareness campaigns out in the field to encourage farmers to increase on national herds and flocks while also avoiding overstocking,” he told the farmers.
Mr Mwangi however cautions the dairy farmers to be wary of unscrupulous milk agents who are out to exploit them and instead should join the New KCC where they are guaranteed of the safety of their produce.