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Murang’a dairy farmers support milk processing factory

The majority of dairy farmers in Murang’a have welcomed a decision by the county government to transfer management of a milk factory to the Murang’a Cooperative Creameries Union (MCCU).

During public participation forums held in various areas on Friday, farmers expressed hopes that the MCCU will successfully and effectively revive the facility, which was closed in mid-last year.

The milk factory was closed by the current regime due to accrued pending bills that led the facility to operate at a loss.

Farmers led by their cooperative leaders said they have the capacity to run the factory and ensure their milk fetches more returns after value addition.

The milk factory located in Maragua was established during former Governor Mwangi wa Iria’s regime in 2017 and has the capacity to process thousands of litres of milk on a daily basis.

After Irungu Kang’ata ascended to power, his administration closed the factory’s operation on the grounds that it was operating at a loss and had pending bills amounting to about Sh. 400 million.

In 2019, the factory started to accumulate losses occasioned by unpaid transporters, farmers’ milk, and suppliers’ debts.

On August 9 this year, the county executive, in a meeting, resolved to revive the factory by transferring management of the facility to MCCU.

The devolved government states the main reason to transfer the factory to MCCU was that the entity was originally owned by the county government, and thus MCCU is fully owned by Murang’a milk farmers.

During the public participation, the county executive member for Cooperatives and Trade Kimani Mugo said MCCU is stable and solvent, and its management is different from the county government.

He observed that MCCU has more than 10,000 dairy farmers, thus making the union the largest milk aggregator in the county.

Mugo said the county government has set aside Sh. 40 million towards the revival of the factory, saying the facility has more assets than liabilities.

“We look forward to the successful revival of the factory so that our dairy farmers can earn more income after their milk undergoes value addition,” said Mugo during a public participation held at Kariguini area.

He noted that the revival of the factory will be a big boost to farmers who already receive subsidies for milk delivered to their cooperative societies.

At the beginning of this year, Kang’ata’s administration established a Sh. 3.5 fee for every litre of milk delivered to dairy cooperative societies registered by the county government.

Mugo called on farmers to register with cooperatives, saying it’s the only way for them to benefit from the subsidy programme.

Kamahuha MCA James Karanja, who is also chairperson of the county assembly’s committee for trade and cooperatives, lauded the move to have the factory managed and run by the MCCU.

He said that currently in Murang’a, there are about 4,400 active dairy farmers, and once the factory is revived, farmers will be ready to market their milk.

“The county assembly has given the nod to have the milk factory transferred to MCCU and agreed to offer Sh. 40 million for the revival of the factory. We hope this will be a big boost to dairy farming in the county,” he added.

Chairman of Kamahuha Dairy Cooperative Society, Mr. Fredrick Njuguna, assured that, as farmers, they have the capacity to run the factory.

Njuguna said what can hinder the smooth operation of the factory is a shortage of milk, calling on farmers to invest in the dairy sector so as to ensure the factory gets the required quantity of milk to process.

“The ball is in our court, farmers. Since the factory needs large amounts of milk on a daily basis. I appeal to farmers to invest in their dairy farming to increase milk production, which will see the facility operate smoothly,” noted the chairman.

The public participation forums were conducted at Murang’a town and Kariguini in Murang’a south sub-county.

By Bernard Munyao

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