Kenyans might be forced to dig deeper into their pockets for dairy products in coming months after milk production recorded a sharp reduction following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the country.
Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said outbreak in parts of the Rift Valley and recent increase in prices of animal feeds has seen some farmers abandoning dairy farming due to the high cost of production
Kimtai who was speaking on the sidelines today, after opening a validation workshop on veterinary bills in Nairobi, noted that low milk farm gate prices coupled with high cost of imported animal feeds occasioned by COVID-19 related movement restrictions across the world has left dairy farmers on the edge, with some opting out of the business altogether due to the high costs of production
He confirmed that despite this, the government will not dictate the retail prices of milk in the country, in the advent of reduced milk production in the country.
“Negotiations on modalities to allow importation of milk from the US are ongoing and as a government we pledge to protect the local dairy industry from unfair competition from the imported products”, the PS said.
To further ensure local animal products meet international standards, Kimtai said that stakeholders are meeting to ensure validation of the animal health, veterinary health and animal welfare bills that seeks to increase safety standards and also improve efficiency in the livestock production value chain.
The PS sentiments comes weeks after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted milk market following closure of schools and hotels hence a laxity from farmers in producing milk.
The CS had acknowledged that the foot and mouth disease had contributed to the drop in the production thus distressing processors who do not have sufficient milk to satisfy the market.
“The government might be forced to import in order to meet the deficit,” Munya said and urging farmers to invest in animal feeds to boost milk production and also to market milk formally.
Kenya Dairy Board managing director Margaret Kibogy had said that the cold spell has greatly contributed to the low production, but noted that farm gate prices have gone up to a high of Ksh 40 per litre
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at least 800,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya depend on dairy farming for their livelihood.
However, despite the sector contributing 8 percent of Gross Domestic Product with annual milk production of 3.43 billion litres, majority of the small-scale dairy farmers are constrained by low quantity and quality of feeds.
Joseph Anampiu, Commercial Unit Leader, East Africa, at Corteva AgriSciences says that Kenya has the highest per capita consumption of milk in Africa at 120 litres, compared with the African average of 50 litres with consumption projected to nearly double to 22 litres by 2030 backed by a milk demand growth rate of 7 percent per annum.
By Wangari Ndirangu