Speaking during a Brookside event that awarded 15 dairy farmers a trip to Durban, South Africa, on Friday, Regional Manager Emmanuel Kabaki said the company wants to primarily target the youth to begin farming, a skill largely regarded for retirees.
“The beauty about farming is that there will always be a market for food. We have a population of about 40 million Kenyans, today. By 2030 it is expected to increase by 50 percent. How are we going to be self-sufficient in food if the young people don’t embrace farming,” he asked.
Brookside has already reached 25,000 farmers through the program last year, with a target of 50,000 farmers this year.
With Kenya’s dairy industry heavily dependent on smallholder milk production, Kabaki said the training is necessary to build the capacity of the local dairy sector.
About 145,000 dairy farmers participate in Brookside’s Dairy Farmers’ Extension program that benefits farmers by guaranteeing loans, providing farm and animal inputs on credit among other features.
Twenty-six year old dairy farmer Douglas Kanja, who participates in the program said Brookside has been instrumental in assisting him find a market to sell his milk.
“Brookside came in at the right time to sort out the issue of access to markets. They provide the extension services and support. We are left to fully engage in the production of the milk,” he said.
After starting his dairy business three years ago with one cow, Kanja now owns 140 cows producing an average of 800 to 1,000 liters a day on his 20 acre farm in Kimende.
Although business is good, Kanja said he is not exempt from challenges such as high feed and fuel costs as well as inadequate road infrastructure.
Currently employed as an IT expert, he said farming has brought in five times his career salary, a major reason he wants to encourage more youth to get involved in farming.
“It saddens me to hear people say there are no jobs. Yet, there are acres of land lying idle. All you need to do is get a cow, get it into a field and you’re off. So I believe it’s high time that we youth looked into dairy farming as a source of income.”