Milk production in Vihiga County has received a major boost after the World Bank’s National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) issued a grant of Sh16.3 million to local dairy farmers.
Vihiga Governor Dr. Wilber Ottichilo handed cheques of Sh9,014,000 and Sh7,290,200 to Vihiga Dairy Cooperative Society and Sabatia Dairy Cooperative Society respectively, during a colourful ceremony held at the County headquarters in Mbale town Monday.
Addressing the beneficiaries, Ottichilo reiterated the County government’s commitment to boost agricultural activities in order to stimulate economic growth as well as improve living standards of area residents.
“The World Bank through NARIGP has so far released about Sh200 million to a total of 540 farmers groups since the programme was rolled out in our County two years ago,” disclosed Ottichilo who was flanked by his Deputy Dr. Patrick Saisi and the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture Mr. Geoffrey Vukaya.
Besides the two dairy farmers groups, other groups in the County that have so far received grants from NARIGP include Tissue Culture Banana and Indigenous vegetable farmers groups.
The governor urged dairy farmers in the region to upscale milk production from the current 1,000 litres to 5,000 in order to attract external investors to the industry.
“We are in talks with a Germany non-profit making organization that is interested in establishing a milk processing plant, once we hit the 5,000 litres daily production,” revealed Ottichilo.
Meanwhile, Vihiga Dairy Cooperative Society will use the Sh9.014 million grant to procure one milk distribution van, three motorcycles for collecting raw milk from farmers, set up collection centres and milk bars as well as purchasing of the necessary equipment.
On the other hand, Sabatia Dairy Cooperative will utilize the Sh7.3 million towards installation of a milk cooler and two bulk freezers, purchase four motorcycles as well as setting up an Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre.
According to official statistics, the County boasts of 11 registered dairy farmer’s groups.
And decrying what he described as slow uptake of NARIGP funded activities in the County, Ottichilo challenged the beneficiaries to embrace best practices learned through various capacity building programmes, including educational tours and exhibitions.
“We are yet to see and feel the desired outcomes of NARIGP, including improved sources of livelihood and living standards, among our people in Vihiga,” observed the governor.
“The main focus of the NARIGP initiative is to turn Vihiga into an agribusiness County before the end of its activities here in 2023,” he added.
The county executive for agriculture in his remarks urged the beneficiaries to utilize the funds prudently and solely for the intended purpose.
by Maurice Aluda