ELDORET, Kenya, Mar 17 – Deputy President William Ruto has urged farmers to venture into dairy farming to make the country self sufficient in milk production.
Ruto said the country currently has a shortage of 500,000 litres of milk every day despite the fact that dairy farming remains the most profitable within the agricultural sector.
He said the government was aware of the challenges facing dairy farmers that has led to low output of milk and that it was committed to solving them.
“In Eldoret Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) factory for example, 100,000 litres are received from farmers during dry season while 300,000 litres are received during the rainy season meaning that we still have a lot of shortage,” said Ruto.
Addressing dairy farmers in Eldoret’s KCC factory in Uasin Gishu County on Friday, Ruto said pricing structure in the market remained a challenge because of brokers buying milk directly from farmers at lower prices.
The Deputy President also issued cheques worth Sh287 million to 10,000 farmers from Nandi, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Trans Nzoia Counties as part of the Sh500 million that farmers were not paid following the collapse of defunct KCC 20 years ago and which the Government waived last year.
Present were Cabinet Secretaries Willy Bett (Agriculture), Aden Mohammed (Industrialisation), Governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Silas Tiren (Moiben), James Bett (Kesses), Isaac Melly (Uasin Gishu), Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi), Jackson Kiptanui (Keiyo South), KCC Director Nixon Sigei and Chairman Matu Wamae.
He said efforts by the government to source for ready markets for dairy farmers in Congo, South Sudan and Tanzania among other areas were affected by shortage of milk in the country.
“In Congo, there are 90 million people who need milk and we are well placed to export milk. This is why we should invest heavily in this sector,” said Ruto.
The Deputy President said the government in the next financial year will allocate funds to KCC to help stabilize milk prices and pay farmers promptly to eliminate the problem of milk hawkers.
“KCC should explore a situation where farmers are paid once they deliver their milk or within one or two weeks to discourage farmers from selling their produce to hawkers at lower prices,” said Ruto.
He said Sh1 billion has been set aside for expansion and modernization of Kitale, Eldoret, Nyahururu, Sotik and Nyeri KCC factories.
“The government wants to replace the old machines in our factories to ensure milk were processed in a cost effective manner,” said Ruto.
He asked leaders to work together in solving challenges facing farmers in the region.
“Leaders in nation and county governments should work together in addressing challenges facing farmers,” said Ruto.
CS Mohammed said the government continues to attach great importance to the role played by the dairy sector in the development of the country’s economy.
The MPs praised the government for paying dairy farmers their dues after the collapse of old KCC 20 years.
They said Jubilee has implemented its promise to improve the lives of farmers saying the move would boost their morale to invest heavily in the sector.
“We are grateful that Jubilee has only taken four years to pay farmers their dues that previous governments failed to do so,” said Chepkonga.
The legislators said residents in the area were firmly in support of the Jubilee Party and would not be misled to support political parties, which have no future.
“Voters in this region will support Jubilee during the August elections to the last man. That’s all,” Chepkonga said.