The dairy industry is still recording declining returns due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the agricultural sub-sector. Some farmers and dairy societies from the North Rift region, have said that access to markets, inputs and labour, has been affected by covid containment measures.
Despite adjusting to the new normal through Ministry of Health (MOH) protocols for safety, they say, their economic progress has been affected by a suppressed market due to reduced mobility and interaction.
Chepkorio dairies Limited, a farmers’ cooperative society in Elgeyo Marakwet is recording a significant drop in milk supplies from its 2,500 members.
The society notes that most farmers reduced their milk supplies to feed their children during the 10 months schools were closed last year, following the first Covid-19 case.
“Our society would receive an average of 10,000 kilograms of milk daily, but is currently receiving between 6,000 and 7,000 kilos. This has affected our revenues,” said Mr Jeremia Kiptum, a manager at the dairy.
Ezekiel Tigisie, the manager Lessos dairies in Nandi county said they also recorded a drop in milk supplies from 13,000 kilos of milk daily to only 8,500 kilos.
“The drop was more significant in March last year when supplies hit a low of 6,000 kilos, after learning institutions were closed. Farmers who used to supply an average of 10 litres per day redirected some two or three litres for domestic consumption,” said Tigisie.
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This reduced the amount of money getting to the smallholder households. The average income of small holder dairy producers has also reduced.
Nelson Sang, a small-scale dairy farmer in Lessos, says that his monthly average income has reduced due to low supplies.
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I used to earn a monthly average of Ksh25,000 to Ksh28,000 but this has reduced to between Ksh10,000 andKsh13,000,” said Sang.
According to Mr Francis Mwangi, the communication lead, Heifer International Kenya, milk supplies have reduced as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
“A study by Heifer Kenya to assess the impact of Covid-19 on farmers revealed that the income for cooperatives has reduced by 35 per cent. This can be attributed to several factors including reduced milk supply as a result of increased household milk consumption,” he says.