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Govt to invest in bulk dairy cooling, storage infrastructure

Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi has said his ministry is investing in bulk cooling and storage infrastructure for the dairy sector, which will support marketing cooperatives and the farmers in the sector.

He noted that milk is a highly perishable product which needs efficient and orderly measures of collection and cooling, adding that marketing systems are also crucial to the overall viability and profitability of the commercial dairy sector.

To this end, Linturi announced that a cooler will soon be installed in every ward in high milk-producing counties, noting that this will cushion farmers against losses and spoilage, thus raising their financial capabilities and safeguarding milk quality.

The remarks were contained in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Secretary, Administration, in the State Department of Livestock, Boniface Simba, during the 67th Graduation Ceremony of the Dairy Training Institute (DTI) in Naivasha on Thursday.

During the graduation, three groups totaling 198 students who qualified were awarded certificates in Dairy Production and Management, Dairy Technology and Management, and Diploma in Dairy Production and Processing.

The CS observed that dairy is a very crucial sub-sector as it accounts for about 15 per cent of the total agricultural sector Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributes substantially to the national economy, and still aims to play a significant role in achieving the 10 per cent economic growth as stipulated in the Kenya Vision 2030 blue print. It is also a major source of livelihood for the families of about 1.8 million small-scale farmers for whom dairy farming is a primary activity.

“Consequently, the dairy sub-sector also offers employment to over two million people either directly or indirectly along the milk marketing chain, and it accounts for the largest share of livestock contribution to the country’s GDP at 3.5 per cent total GDP share, as smallholder dairy production accounts for over 70 per cent of total milk produced,” Linturi stated.

He also said that due to the high contribution of the dairy value chain to the economy, the Kenyan government has chosen to promote dairy as one of the priority areas under the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

Linturi explained that, in line with BETA, the government intends to carry out several interventions in the dairy value chain, including doubling milk production per animal and maximising lactation rates, setting up feed centres for livestock within each cooperative, and establishing dairy hubs with a variety of Business Development Services (BDS) for farmers that include animal health, extension services, and access to agro-vet services, among others.

Other interventions include ensuring access to Artificial Insemination (AI) services within the dairy farmer cooperative societies, operationalizing milk processing plants for bulking to improve quality and market access, adding value, and continual strengthening of the capacity of dairy hub management and farmers through various training, exposure visits, and field days.

“To this end, DTI will play a critical role in capacity building among dairy producers and processors,” the CS declared.

But Linturi was quick to note that the dairy sector was facing various challenges, namely climate change and recurrent drought, high input costs, low productivity, declining land sizes, and seasonality in production, among other challenges.

He said that in order to address these challenges, the government will put in place the necessary institutional framework to ensure the production and marketing of livestock and livestock products give value to livestock stakeholders.

“To further revamp the livestock sub-sector, the government has committed to, among others, organising farmers into collectives or societies to facilitate marketing of farmer produce, extension services, access to farm inputs, and other related business development services, including the provision of financial services,” Linturi retorted.

Other measures, he said, will include enabling farmers to access affordable feeds through bulk procurement and, where possible, setting up feed storage facilities and modern feedlots; creating a framework for compensation of livestock lost to droughts and famine through livestock insurance schemes; supporting restocking activities after droughts; and, whenever possible, improving farmers’ earnings through value addition; the establishment of cold chain infrastructure, slaughterhouses, and processing factories; and supporting disease surveillance activities, among others.

Linturi also announced plans to establish a Livestock Marketing Board to promote and guide livestock trade within and outside the country and marketing facilities to provide timely and reliable market information.

DTI Principal Mr. Abraham Katam said the institute continues to capacity-build dairy farmers by offering short courses such as feed formulation, but is facing a serious shortage of manpower and general infrastructure to meet the growing demand for their training in the country. He appealed to the government through the ministry to intervene.

By Mabel Keya – Shikuku

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