NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – President Mwai Kibaki has commended dairy farmers in the country for increased milk production rising from two billion litres in 2002 to about five billion litres last year.
He noted that during the same period, intakes by milk processors increased from about 140 million litres to about 550 million litres.
Kibaki attributed the tremendous improvement in the dairy industry to sound policy and regulatory guidelines created by the government with the support of all stakeholders and the increased production by dairy farmers.
The president was speaking when he officially opened the 8th African Diary Conference and Exhibition that is being held when the country is facing a milk shortage caused by an over 50 percent drop in milk production since January.
The president highlighted that while the dairy industry continued to play a leading role in the improvement of livelihoods of rural households, through creation of wealth and employment in the continent, Africa remains a milk deficit continent.
Subsequently he urged African countries to consider enhancing intra-regional trade on dairy products to promote and hasten the development of milk sub-sector on the continent.
The three-day conference is expected to draw close to 100 exhibitors and over 300 decision makers in the dairy industry in Africa and highlight investment opportunities in the regional dairy sector and emphasize on practices and technologies to catalyze development in the African dairy sector.
Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association (ESADA) Executive Director Peter Ngaruiya said Kenya’s dairy industry must begin to embrace new technologies and farming methods in order to improve value and expand the market.
In an earlier interview with Capital FM Business, Ngaruiya noted that new product development will be necessary to create new avenues of revenue in the dairy industry, where 80 percent of milk produced is marketed through the informal sector.
“There are other value added products like cheeses and yogurts that farmers can produce. This value addition at the farm gate can give the farmer higher returns,” he said.
Ngaruiya said he hopes the conference will empower local farmers to begin marketing and processing their own milk and use the bargaining power of clustering in cooperatives.
“Those cooperatives should move further towards value addition, instead of bulking the milk and selling it as it is, but find ways to get it to the market themselves.”