A partnership between five companies could see an increased production of milk in six counties across Kenya. Corteva Agriscience, Land O’Lakes Venture37, Bidco Land O’Lakes, Forage Genetics International (FGI), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI Kenya) have joined hands to empower women smallholder dairy farmers.

The two-year programme will cost Ksh37.5 million and aims to bridge the annual 2.2-billion litre shortage of dairy products. About 5,000 female smallholder dairy farmers will benefit.

Kiambu, Nakuru, Kericho, Uasin Gishu, Nyeri and Meru counties have been picked as beneficiaries. The programme will target both existing and emerging women dairy farmers and train them on new methods of producing nutrient-rich forage (corn silage and hay), forage harvesting and conservation, and providing reliable feed for their dairy cattle. They will also be training on mechanisation to help reduce overall production costs.

Corteva will provide agronomic education and training; Forage Genetics International (FGI) will give expert knowledge in forage management, while ILRI will offer locally based, world capabilities and livestock management practices. On the other hand, Land O’Lakes will offer advanced dairy technologies, with Bidco Land O’Lakes   proffering expert advice on dairy animals feeding.

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), at least 800,000 smallholders depend on dairy farming. Poor technology has been cited as a contributor to the failure by dairy farmers to meet the country’s demand. 

With an annual production of 3.43 billion litres, the dairy sector contributes eight per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product.

Other factors affecting milk production are low quality feeds, lack of reliable statistical market information, poor rural infrastructure, lack of collateral for loans, low technical skills on husbandry and little or no access to veterinary and artificial insemination (AI) services. 

“Kenya has the highest per capita consumption of milk in Africa, at 120 litres compared with the average of 50 litres,” said Mr Joseph Anampiu, Commercial Unit Leader, East Africa, at Corteva Agriscience.

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“Consumption is projected to nearly double to 220 litres by 2030, backed by a milk demand growth rate of seven per cent per annum. As a leader in agricultural innovation and a collaborator with farmers, we are committed to providing tools and training to increase yield stability, optimise inputs, and improve climate resilience,” he added.

Ms Anne Alonzo, the senior vice-president of External Affairs at Corteva Agriscience, noted that the new collaboration would impact the lives of the Kenyan women, their families and their communities.

The Global Government and Industry Affairs Leader at Corteva Agriscience, Ms Tiffany Atwell, noted the critical role women play in agriculture as well as how government policies can build more inclusive agriculture and food systems.

In June, Corteva announced its 2030 sustainability goals, spanning a wide range of initiatives for farmers, the land, communities, and its operations. The company pledged to help increase the productivity of smallholder farmers and empower women.

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