Nakuru has become the first county to launch the Dairy Value Chain Strategic Plan (2019-2023) that targets to train and motivate small landholders in a bid to increase milk production.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said through the Strategic Plan dairy farmers within the devolved unit will also be equipped with skills to provide artificial insemination.
Speaking during the launch of the Strategic Plan in Nakuru, Mr Kinyanjui stated local dairy farmers would also be trained on modern animal management and fodder cultivation.
The occasion was graced by Principal Secretary, State Department of Livestock Harry Kimutai, Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) Managing Director Margaret Kibogy, Deputy Governor Dr Eric Korir and County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Dr Immaculate Maina.
“The dairy sector is the largest sub sector in the agriculture value chain creating employment and ensuring food security. Although Kenya is the second largest producer of milk in Africa, the dairy sector incurs a lot of losses during production and processing.
The Strategic Plan will formulate relevant approaches and programmes for the development of the industry in the County,” Mr Kinyanjui said.
During the period of implementation, the County’s dairy segment is expected to benefit from improved artificial insemination, better cattle sheds, mobile vet clinics, and establishment of bulk milk chillers, new milk collection centres and skills on how to cultivate fodder at home.
“The County Government will collaborate with farmers to ensure they increase uptake of high quality dairy animal breeds. Hay forms a critical component in the dairy sector, therefore we will work with research institutions and livestock keepers in developing new varieties so that farmers get value for money.
We can’t however achieve food security and realize our potential in agriculture if we continue disposing off our strategic and arable land,” warned the County boss.
Mr Kimutai observed that Kenya has a vibrant dairy industry with an estimated contribution of four percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said the vibrancy was anchored on the increasing domestic milk production averaging five percent per year, growing milk processing capacity averaging 7 percent per year and rising annual per capita milk consumption averaging 5.8percent per year, which currently stood at 110 liters.
“Milk production is driven by small-scale dairy farmers whose population is estimated at 1.8 million. The small-scale dairy farmers produce over 90 per cent of the milk.
Efficient implementation of the Strategic Plan will improve productivity and quality of raw milk in the devolved unit” stated the Principal Secretary.
Ms Kibogy hailed the Strategic Plan for taking into account the socio-economic importance of the Kenyan dairy industry and the need for inter-agency linkages and collaborations to further improve on the performance of the industry.
The small-scale nature of milk production, said the MD poses huge challenges to the industry in terms of cost of production, collection and cooling, seasonal fluctuations in supply and the quality of raw milk.
“The formal milk marketing channel handles approximately 650 million litres per annum which accounts for approximately 30 percent of the marketed milk. The informal sale of raw milk in rural, peri urban and urban areas is a regulatory concern due to the potential public health concerns” stated the KDB Managing Director
She noted that the Strategic Plan was committed to enhancing the capacity of dairy dealers to produce and deliver quality and safe dairy products and expand market access to domestic and export markets. Ms Kibogy called on county authorities to supplement KDB’s mandate of increasing consumer awareness on risks associated with consumption of unsafe dairy products.
The Deputy Governor said there is need for dairy farmers to diversify dairy products to increase household income and enhance development of a robust and efficient dairy value chain.
“Dairy farmers should come up with more innovative products from milk so as to boost milk consumption and in the process create businesses for themselves,” Dr Korir said.
He said the Strategic Plan had been crafted to greatly benefit small-scale dairy farmers through training.
“Dairy farmers will learn how to increase milk production. We expect them to become commercial producers,” Dr Korir said.
According to County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Dr. Immaculate Maina it was critical for the dairy sector value chain to be streamlined by making access to quality milk coolers and processors easier for small holder farmers.
She stated that climate-smart actions in the dairy sector in Kenya have a huge impact in stimulating growth in the milk value chain.
“That’s why feed preparation and conservation is a critical aspect in sustaining production throughout the year. We will also be emphasizing on the need to keep improved breed” said Dr Maina
By Jane Ngugi