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Kenya urged to set up milk reserve

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17- A section of the dairy sector players are now urging the government to set up a milk reserve as one way of addressing the over production in the country.

Brookside General Manager for Milk Procurement and Extension Services John Gethi said on Wednesday that the reserve would take up the surplus milk in the market which would then be processed into long life milk and other dairy products such as cheese and ghee.

“We would like to request the government to set up a strategic reserve which would give us an instantaneous solution to the problem we are having,” he said.

The market is currently experiencing a milk glut with volumes going up by 30 percent and this has seen thousands of litres poured down the drain due to a lack of storage and processing capacity. It is not the first time that the country is facing such a problem thus pointing to poor planning on the part of the government.

Mr Gethi however cautioned that another glut is looming if the country receives the long rains between April and June and therefore called for a speedy implementation of such intervention measures.

He also appealed to the government to give incentives to local processors who seek opportunities abroad to enable them capture the export markets.

Kenya is the second largest producer of milk in Africa with a production of approximately 3.5 billion litres per year which presents a huge market. But to effectively service these markets, the country would need to ensure a consistent supply of milk and related products thus the need to encourage farmers to produce more and have the milk preserved better.

“We would like to urge our farmers to plan and spread out their milk production over the year. It helps not only the whole business environment but also the processors to cope with the surplus,” he argued.

In the meantime, Mr Gethi called on the government to buy milk from processors such as Brookside which is currently holding over 20 million litres and distribute it to needy people and institutions such as schools.

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“We are buying more than we are able to sell,” he said while regretting that they were not able to collect milk from farmers whom they don’t have a supplier agreement with.

The company, which has a database of 120,000 farmers who deliver milk to them on a contracted basis, has been giving out 30,000 litres of milk daily. This is because the supply is more than their processing capacity as they the amount they receive has gone up from 450,000 litres per day to just under 600,000 litres.

The manager reckoned that the government should also hold a campaign to encourage Kenyans to consume processed milk. The country consumes approximately 1.5 million litres per day.

“Why continue consuming raw milk in some of these big hotels when we have a product that is safe, has gone through all the necessary tests and has got all the nutrients?” he posed.

Only about 30 percent of milk produced in the country goes through the processing factories while the rest is sold informally.

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