, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – Dairy processor Brookside has announced plans to increase its national market share of raw milk by over six percent in the next twelve months by partnering with farmers’ co-operative societies to set up an additional seven cooling centres.
The firm’s General Manager in charge of milk procurement and extension services John Gethi said part of the plan involves investment in milk bulking facilities at the processor’s 30 cooling stations countrywide.
Currently, Brookside controls over 45 percent of the national raw milk market, with a daily intake of some 600,000 litres.
The company recently unveiled its nearly completed dry milk complex, which will be used to process powder milk for both operational and strategic needs.
“Last year, we purchased over 180,000 tonnes of milk from our 145,000 contracted farmers. Barring any unforeseen effects of the weather, we expect to increase this quantity by over 6 percent,” Gethi said.
“Part of our success in intake volumes is attributed to the fact that we were the first processor to enter into contractual arrangement with our milk farmers,” he added.
He revealed that they want to cast their lot with improved raw milk chilling facilities that would give them the leverage to absorb increased volumes from farmers, especially in the high potential areas.
“The new measures are designed to up our capacity to take in as much milk from farmers as possible,” he said.
“As a company, we are adequately prepared for capacity challenges usually witnessed during the flush season, and we are encouraging farmers to increase production as the market for the raw milk is assured,” he added.
He said dairy farming had become a profitable enterprise in Kenya, as farmers continue to enjoy reforms rolled out in 2003 as part of the industry’s post-liberalization agenda.
“Our farmers are assured of a reliable market and timely payments as they deliver their milk to us,” he noted.
“This has led to increased disposable income by the farming community, and in a big way, the dairy industry has made a contribution to the development of the rural economy,” he explained.
He disclosed that dairy farmers in Nyandarua earned over Sh500 million for milk deliveries to Brookside, saying farmers in Miharati, Kipipiri constituency alone pocketed over Sh90 million over the same period.
However, he decried the poor condition of roads in some milk producing areas, saying it led to transit delays.
“We have engaged the Kenya Rural Roads Authority to see to it that motorways in milk producing areas are prioritised for rehabilitation,” he revealed.
He also cited vagaries of weather as another challenge to production, saying parts of Nyandarua were prone to frost attacks, leading to depressed milk output.
“The co-relation between frost attacks and milk production is that supply becomes depressed,” he said.
He added that farmlands in the Nyandarua and Aberdare ranges witnessed savage attacks of frost during the first quarter of the year, but he noted that production had since stabilized in the two areas.
Area MP and Minister for Transport Amos Kimunya said he would press for the revival of collapsed farmers’ Saccos in Nyandarua county.
The transport minister said he would use funds from the CDF kitty to assist farmers’ co-operatives to build offices from where they can effectively address members’ problems and he challenged locals to resume pyrethrum farming in order to spread risks and increase revenue streams.