Dairy farmers in Nakuru County have recorded increased milk production and sales in the past two years, due to the adoption of good agricultural practices.
Statistics from the Livestock Department show that production increased by 33.9 per cent, from 200 million litres in 2017 to 300 million litres in December 2019.
According to the Agriculture Department, which has been training smallholder farmers on modern dairy farming, they are reaping huge profits from milk sales after adopting these techniques.
Dr Enos Amuyunzu, the county livestock chief officer, said that the shift from traditional dairy farming had been key in increasing milk production.
“The world is embracing modern dairy farming techniques and our farmers have no option than to move with the pace,” he said.
Capacity building and training of farmers has been the major focus, as the county works seeks to transform the sector into a vibrant and economically viable value chain.
Training has focused on good dairy farming practices, milk storage, packaging and transportation. Farmers are being taught to establish, prepare and store fodder.
The county has been partnering with milk processing companies to facilitate the training.
Brookside Dairy has been offering extension services to farmers and training them on growth-focused dairy farming.
Farmers in Kuresoi South, through their cooperative society, have been able to raise their milk production from 800 litres a day in 2017 to the current 10,000 litres.
“We cannot be in the market without farmers, which is why we partnered with the county to build capacity and ensure that we are dealing with a modern and informed farmer,” said Brookside Dairy director of milk procurement John Gethi.
Brookside has been providing a guaranteed market for the farmers’ groups and cooperative societies.
Ms Jane Wanjiku, a dairy farmer in Molo, said that previously farmers suffered losses due to lack of markets.
“Before Brookside came in, we would pour our milk during the rainy season because we lacked a ready market,” she said.
According to Dr Amuyunzu, prompt and reliable payments by milk processors have encouraged many farmers to take up dairy farming.
Public and private initiatives for farmers
Through the support of the county government and Brookside Dairies, farmers have acquired improved and modern dairy breeds that have better yields. The Livestock Department has also invested in artificial insemination and distributed kits to farmers.
The processor and the county government have helped to establish 30 dairy co-operatives.
The county minister in charge of agriculture, Dr Immaculate Maina, said that co-operatives are a crucial way of cushioning farmers from exploitation by brokers and middlemen.
“With a co-operative, farmers are assured of a ready market, steady income, credit facilities, training and other benefits,” she said.
To enable the formation of a county dairy union, the Department of Agriculture has allocated Sh10 million.
To further support the dairy sector, the county has devised a Nakuru County Dairy Strategic Plan.
It has also invested Ksh70 million in vaccination.