Dairy farmers in Nakuru will reap maximum benefits if Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s administration sets aside more funding for agriculture to ensure full implementation of the ambitious Nakuru County Dairy Strategic Plan 2019-2024.
According to the 2020/2021 budget, the critical Agriculture docket has been allocated Sh1 billion.
However, more than half of the money, which translates to Sh552.5 million, will go to recurrent expenditure while Sh453.8 million will go to development in the three departments of Livestock, Fisheries and Agriculture.
Dairy farmers in the county have observed that an additional budgetary allocation will assure them of ready markets and better prices, ultimately translating to more jobs along the milk value chain and increasing wealth in the county.
According to the chairman of the Nakuru Dairy Value Chain Stakeholders’ Platform Waweru Nyangi, dairy farmers will gain if they double their milk production from the present seven litres per cow per day to 15 litres.
The average production per lactation in the region is 2,100 litres.
This is low compared to the leading global productivity per cow of 42 litres per day and 12,000 litres per lactation.
The average annual milk produced in the county in the last financial year was 290 million litres worth Sh9.6 billion.
“Nakuru dairy farmers have shown keen interest to improve their milk production through better animal husbandry practices and as they improve on their dairy herd management. The county government should assure them of ready markets for their milk and other value addition milk products like yoghurt,” said Mr Nyangi.
To make Nakuru a leading milk producer, the dairy farmers have called for the establishment of guaranteed minimum returns and implementation of a quality-based payment system.
“This payment system will attract our youth to dairy farming and replace the ageing dairy farmers who are exiting the stage due to natural attrition,” added Mr Nyangi.
The farmers also want the county to declare hay and other fodder as a cash crops, establish strategic reserves and develop infrastructures to promote the farming.
They also want the county to establish storage, processing plants and increase investment in machinery.
The county has established a machine and equipment unit at the Agriculture Training Centre in Soilo where farmers can hire various equipment at competitive rates.
Mr Nyangi said the dairy farmers have formed a strong cooperative union which brings together 15 societies with the aim of establishing a milk processing plant in the county.
“To increase the uptake of milk and milk products, we are looking towards the establishment of a county school milk programme by once school reopens fully next year,” said Mr Nyangi.
At the moment, the farmers sell their milk to established processors such as Brookeside Dairy, New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (NKCC), Daima Dairies and upcoming processors in the region such as Bahati Agro-Processor among others.
The dairy cooperative union was formed in 2019 with the sole aim of addressing the challenges faced by dairy farmers in the region.
Some of the challenges the farmers are facing include poor quality feeds, inadequate and inefficient breeding services, ineffective disease control and veterinary services, lack of credit and low adoption of technology among others.
The platform has revolutionised the dairy sector and is a key player in the development of the county’s strategic plan which was launched on September 14 at Pokea farm in Njoro Sub-County.
The platform has also facilitated the registration of Nakuru Dairy Cooperative Union, the development of Nakuru County Food Safety Bill and has also participated in the development of the new milk regulations.