NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 12 – The Kenyan dairy industry is asking the government to finalise the revival of the multi-million shilling school milk program in order to trigger increased consumption of dairy products.
Peter Ngaruiya, the Executive Director at Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association said growing local consumption in the short, medium and long term is critical in developing this important sector.
“Most of the countries which have transformed their dairy sector have a functioning school milk program,” he said, suggesting that the school milk project holds the key to the industry’s complete revival in Kenya.
“The dairy industry is one of the agricultural sectors with very high potential of creating employment not only in Kenya but in the region,” Ngaruiya said in an interview where he released details of the 10th African Dairy Conference and Exhibition slated for later this month.
The conference is being held in Kenya at a time when the dairy industry in the region is experiencing tremendous growth and increased interest and attention from local, regional and international investors. However, in spite of this growth, the industry continues to underperform due to issues that are policy in nature.
“A key issue is the low and erratic production of milk hampering proper planning and sustained investment particularly processing and products development,” Ngaruiya said, suggesting that the industry is seeking out county governments in an effort to implement recommendations that will sustain the production of milk.
A good percentage of dairy farmers are also yet to appreciate the need to maintain high milk quality particularly that of raw milk.
This is largely attributed to lack of proper incentives to encourage farmers to implement practices that would result in improved milk quality, market access and inadequate consumption of milk and milk products. This is due to insufficient support policies including but not limited to taxation regime, tariff and non-tariff barriers for cross border trade and lack of sustainable school milk programs.
The 10th African Dairy Conference and Exhibition will showcase technologies, solutions and practices that if adopted will result to increased production of milk while evening out the fluctuation that are experienced in the industry across the year.
In addition, the event comes at a time when the world will be celebrating the World School Milk day on the last Wednesday of the month of September.
ESADA will join with the stakeholders in the country to mark and lobby for introduction of a sustainable national wide school milk program.
The African Dairy Conference and Exhibition will also allow the Kenya dairy industry to experience the emerging technologies, solutions and practices for increased competitiveness of the industry while stimulating local, regional and international trade in milk and milk products.
Over 100 companies will be exhibiting technologies from farm to table coming from over 30 countries. Over 500 delegates from over 45 countries are also expected to attend the three day event which includes the conference, networking gala dinner and cocktail, field trips among other networking opportunities.
Over 3,000 visitors will attend the extensive exhibition over the three days. Taking a farm to table value chain approach, the conference will cover pertinent industry issues.