The fight against the novel Covid-19 in Vihiga County received a major boost after a German based Non-Governmental Organization donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to 600 dairy farmers and 20 extension officers.
Country officers at Welt Hunger Hilfe (WWH) handed over the medical equipment estimated at Sh2 million in a colourful ceremony presided over by Vihiga Governor Dr. Wilber Ottichilo at county headquarters in Mbale town on Thursday.
Addressing representatives of the beneficiaries, Ottichilo thanked the NGO saying the gesture would help cushion the dairy farmers and extension officers against getting infected by the Covid-19 that continued to claim lives across the globe.
WHH Programmes’ Officer Mr. Raymond Kirui who represented the organization’s Programme Advisor Dr. Stephen Ochieng’ Dindi said the Sh2 million donation was aimed at assisting the dairy farmers conform to current Covid-19 containment measures as directed by the Ministry of Health.
He assured members of public that the organization would closely work with the county government to boost livelihood sources and living standards of dairy farmers.
The official revealed that WWH had already trained 609 dairy farmers and 40 milk handlers on the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly on its symptoms, prevention and reporting.
Some of the equipment commissioned included motorbikes, hand sanitizers, hand washing buckets, face masks, temperature guns and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) that included chemical spray suits, disinfection spray pumps, respirator gas masks, safety goggles and chemical protective gloves.
The WWH is on a three year partnership with the county government through the cooperatives department whose main objective is to boost dairy farming in the region.
“The WWH will be partnering with my government in the dairy farming sector for a period of three years,” disclosed Ottichilo, adding that the German organization has allocated a total of Sh130 million toward improving the sector.
The Governor revealed plans by his administration to bolster the initiative by donating a piece of land to the cooperative department to enable Vihiga Cooperative Society expand its dairy farming activities with specific focus on value addition.
“We therefore challenge dairy farmers to upscale milk production from the current 1000 litres per day to over 5000 litres,” urged Ottichilo.
According to County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture Mr. Jeff Vukaya, the partnership, which is now one year old, has seen the organization initiate several programmes and projects for dairy farmers, including capacity building, training and procurement of dairy farming equipment.
“So far, the organization has trained over 20 farmer groups with a membership of 708 members, mapped and recruited 40 farmer groups with an average membership of 1340 dairy farmers, and procured a milk ATM for Vihiga Dairy Cooperative among other agribusiness initiatives geared towards improving the livelihoods of Vihiga farmers,” disclosed Vukaya.
He added that plans to set up a milk processing plant in the county were at an advanced stage.
By Maurice Aluda