Kenya is a country of irony; milk farmers are an unhappy lot this week while consumers are the most blissful.
Reason? Local milk factories have decided to turn away farmers in their droves because of a glut while consumer prices have been slashed by over eight shillings.
Hundreds of litres of milk are now going to waste due to limited capacity at most of the collection points scattered across the country. For the lucky whose milk is collected, the price has sunk by Sh8 per litre. Creameries including the government run KCC simply cannot cope with the increased milk production that has come with the rainy season.
The main milk companies have been in the business for years and with a little market intelligence they should have prepared for the superfluity. It is common knowledge that milk production goes up during and immediately after the rainy season.
To punish farmers when the industry was showing signs of a recovery is not in the best interest of any of the stakeholders here. It is needless to say that many farmers had just started enjoying the fruits of their labour after years of a crumbled industry.
The government should also not have been caught flat footed on this one.
It’s only in Kenya where we have one part of the country with enough to feed the whole East African region while another part is begging for food.
It’s only in Kenya where we experience five months of fill and the rest of the year people go hungry.
It’s only in Kenya where we continue to import milk powder and at the same time turn back our dedicated peasant farmers.
Our planners simply don’t know how to maximise God’s tidings and store for a rainy day – we have no plans to turn raw milk into powder. It’s sad to note that we only have one plant countrywide to produce powdered milk. They should have come up with plans to export the milk to neighbouring countries and abroad.
Local milk factories have been good to consumers to reduce their prices. I say ‘good’ because consumers here do not notice when production prices come down but when they shoot up.
When companies increase prices, they want to keep them there, even if the reason – such as drought– has disappeared. The problem is as simple as it is obvious- its the tendency by this firms to foot-drag in a bid to deprive consumers better prices and maximise on their profits.
Farmers are also complaining that the factories price reduction is usually quick, but when it comes to increase, it usually takes ages despite the harsh environment they might be operating in.
The best thing about crises is that it makes people think outside the box. Farmers must come up with local societies that will ensure their produce is marketed during the times of fill up and starvation.
Do you get the message?