A five-year strategic plan to help Nakuru County to fully exploit its potential in the dairy subsector has been put in place.
Through the Nakuru County Dairy Value Chain Strategic Plan (2019-2023), the county has identified the strengths and weaknesses within the dairy value chain, which, if worked on, will breathe vibrancy into the subsector.
Developed by the county Ministry of Agriculture, in consultation with other stakeholders and development partners, the strategic plan focuses on transforming the dairy sector through commercial dairy enterprises that will ensure food and nutrition security by 2023.
The plan identifies low market orientation, low uptake of innovation, inadequate disease diagnostics, inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, and climate change as among the challenges faced by the dairy sub-sector in the county.
Speaking during the official launch of the strategy, the Nakuru County Agriculture Minister, Dr Immaculate Maina, said that the full implementation of the strategy would see the county raise its daily milk production from seven to 12 litres per cow.
“With 300 million litres of milk being produced in 2019, the county is yet to fully realise its potential within the dairy subsector,” she said.
According to Dr Maina, the strategy aims at doubling the dairy subsector revenue from the Ksh9 billion earned in 2019.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui termed the strategic plan a step in the right direction.
He said that the plan would help Nakuru to reclaim the glory of being the country’s epicentre of dairy farming.
Population and market penetration
The strategic plan is banking on exploiting the high population in Nakuru to increase the demand for dairy products, which will, in turn, lead to increased milk production by farmers to meet the rising demand.
It seeks to promote milk consumption for the local market as well as improve safety and quality standards to access regional markets.
The county plans to start sensitise its residents on the health benefits of consuming dairy products. It will also support dairy farmers with quality inputs and services to up their production to meet the huge demand.
School milk programmes will be introduced to expand the market demand.
The strategy also seeks to promote dairy value chain actors to embrace innovation for improved productivity and marketing.
It will also promote linkages between innovators and dairy farmers and encourage them to use the innovations.
Incentives for investors
With the existence of potential investors within the dairy sector, the strategy proposes that the county create an enabling environment by offering incentives and subsidies.
Dairy product processors and feed manufacturers are among the investors the county will be seeking to partner with to transform the sector.
Taking advantage of its suitability as an agro-ecological dairy production zone, the county will invest in production and conservation of fodder and pasture, by establishing structures, which will give farmers’ access to quality inputs and services for fodder and pasture production.
Plans to train farmers on fodder conservation as well as establishment of fodder and pasture reserves are also part of the strategic plan.
To enhance animal healthcare and breeding services, the strategy is vetting and recommendation of animal health providers and inseminators to promote quality breeding. It also wants the registration of animal health providers and inseminators with their professional bodies to enhance the public and private animal breeding services.
It seeks to develop refresher courses for animal health providers and establish a local lab or partner with vet labs for lab services with the aim of dealing with poor management of animal health. This will deal with the problem of inadequate diseases diagnostics and lab facilities.
Training and hiring and equipping of extension staff will help in dealing with the problem of inadequate qualified extension services.
The strategy seeks to support dairy cooperatives in the county with collection and processing of dairy products as well as strengthen Nakuru Dairy Cooperative Union. It will help in maximising profits, pulling together resources for training, empowerment, marketing, and product quality.
Nakuru has 17 active and registered dairy cooperative unions.
The strategy also seeks to make use of available milk cooling plants bought by the county to stimulate milk production.
The county will partner with financial institutions to provide credit to farmers at manageable and affordable rates and also encourage farmers to join saccos where they can access credit to expand their dairy ventures.
Adoption of climate-smart agriculture is also part of the strategy aimed at countering the challenges and effects of climate change.
Implementation of the strategy will involve all major players in the sector. They include the national and county governments, research institutions, training institutions, development partners, regulatory bodies, feed processors, financial institutions, farmer organisations and consumer organisations.
Resource mobilisation will be critical for the realisation of the strategy that will require Ksh570 million to implement.