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Kenyan dairy farmers cry foul

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – The ongoing milk glut in the country which has seen gallons of the product go to waste now has agriculturalists crying foul over the government’s incapacity to handle the surplus.

Board Treasurer of the African Women Leaders in Agriculture and Environment Network Charity Kabutha on Tuesday took issue with the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries’ milk purchase price saying it was a setback to dairy farmers who were now being forced to sell their commodity at Sh8 per litre.

Ms Kabutha said New KCC should instead be buying the milk at Sh30 for farmers to make a profit. She explained that accounting all the milk production costs indicated that the government should not buy milk for less that Sh20.

“If the farmer is not able to sell milk at about Sh30 a litre there is no profit unless they have huge volumes of milk and the majority of the producers have very little milk. When we talk of Sh8 it means they are going at a loss of about Sh12 per litre; not even making break even point,” she said.

The farmers’ campaigner also said the government needed to step up its implementation and planning efforts so as to cushion dairy farmers against the losses incurred as a result of the glut. Ms Kabutha also asked all farmers to hold the government to account for the goings-on.

“Let’s hold the ministers accountable; hold the Chief Executive accountable and let them deliver. None of them should go to bed when the farmers are going through this injustice. We pay them Sh1 million a month and the person who elected them is going to bed hungry. Is that even moral?” she posed.

Ms Kabutha added that Kenya so far had all the right ingredients for success to transform its economy but lacked drive and accountability from its leaders. She further explained that the country’s leadership lacked foresight and preparedness.

“We have extremely good frameworks for development and we have extremely professional people from our research institutions to Parliament. If you go to the field you find that farmers are very hard working and they do all the right things. But it is the tying up of all these pieces that seems to go wrong,” she said further citing New KCC’s current incapacity to handle the milk abundance.

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“One thing that we expected the government to do is move fast and set aside a fund that would immediately buy all the milk from the farmers. Maybe give some to hospitals and schools like it used to do in the past while putting its house in order,” she said adding that the government had so far performed dismally in its leadership role. 

Labour costs, veterinary costs and food costs all determine the total production cost for milk and other dairy products.

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