The government will open up state owned land for leasing to dairy farmers cooperatives as a way to cushion farmers from high cost of animal feeds.
This was confirmed by six principal secretaries from different state departments who toured Githunguri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society the country’s third processing plant and makers of Fresha milk products in Githunguri town during a tour to see how they can revitalize the dairy sector in the country.
According to George Kinuthia chairman Githunguri dairy cooperative said that the major problem hindering the milk market is the proliferation of milk from outside the country that has led to low sales of milk hence demoralizing local dairy farmers as they are getting low returns of their milk production.
“In our stores we have over 4 million litres of milk and the market is dwindling. This milk from outside should be looked as it has saturated local milk market and this is demoralizing farmers who are opting other option as it has not got no good returns,” Kinuthia said.
He said that animal feeds cost is still high which has led to some farmers quitting the business.
“If the cost of animal feeds comes down we will have more people interested in dairy farming and increase milk production and we will be able to compete with milk that is coming from outside. the cost of milk in Kenya is high whereas that of milk coming from outside the country is relatively low hence killing the local market,” he said.
Kellow Harsama principal secretary state department crop development said that there is land under state corporations, ADCs, Karlo, prisons and NYS which are lying idle and the government has decided to commercialize the use of this land.
‘The government has decided to put proper use so that we can make the best out of this land. I have offered the dairy cooperatives land where they can grow their pastures and animal feeds so that they can minimize costs and maximize profits,’ he said.
Salome Beacco principal secretary state department correctional services as a delegation they have identified the gap of land and since there is land they will engage all other state departments so that the land can be leased to produce hay, sunflower, cotton seed for purposes of use by dairy farmers.
“We will explore the possibility of farmers especially in cooperatives leasing out our land giving us the correct certified seed and being supplied with fertilizers so that farmers can be able to multiply the production of hay, sunflower, cotton seed so that our dairy farmers can benefit,” she said.
Salim Dokota principal secretary state department ASALs and regional development said that the country is producing around 4.4 billion litres of milk annually but the country is importing milk from neighbouring countries whereas Kenya has the potential to produce over 10 billion litres of milk a year if the government support farmers to increase their production.
“We have state land which is lying idle and that is why we encourage farmers to join cooperatives so that they can lease the land where they can grow feed for their dairy cows. One person may not be able to produce enough milk but if we join hands and engage in production we can be able sustain ourselves and we export the surplus,’ Dokota said.
He said that the government is on the lookout on the quality of animal feed that is on the Kenyan market by ensuring that it is of standard and good quality.
“If there are any complaints of the animal feeds in the Kenyan market complaints should be brought forward and the government will verify the feeds and action will be taken,” he said.
He said that it is a shame that the country is importing milk in a country where there is over 21 million cows where over 6 million comprise of dairy cows and the government is supporting any initiative that will increase milk production in the country.
Patrick Kilemi principal secretary state department of cooperative said that they visited Githunguri dairy to learn and see how the government can replicate their success to 10 other counties and be able to produce 3 million litres of milk per day.
He said that the challenge is importing the main protein aspect of animal feeds which is the cotton seed cake among others and the government is encouraging that cross sector support and we grow the textile industry which will support the dairy industry with the supply of seed cake, sunflower farming to bring down the cost of feeds and improve the quality.
“By the government subsidizing the cost of fertilizers the dairy farmers are enjoying it as they are able to grow animal feeds at a lower cost. The animal feed constitutes around 60% of the cost of production per litre and if we are able to put down this cost we have more money in the pockets of dairy farmers,” kilemi said.
Jonathan Mueke principal secretary state department of livestock development team leader of dairy sector value chain said that they have identified that the government needs to ensure there is the right breed of dairy cows so that they can produce as much milk as possible to increase production.
“Government from December is going to start providing with semen sexing that will help dairy farmers once their animals are inseminated to give birth to heifers calves to ensure we keep the supply of our dairy animals going and we get the best breed for different locations and for increased milk production,” Mueke said.
He said that the government will ensure that the farmers get round animal feed as the farmers have expressed their concerns of high cost of feed which is 60% of the cost of production for milk.
“All taxes and levies of animal feed have been removed and we have been confirmed by management of Githunguri dairy that the animal feed is costing almost Sh 500 less a bag that is going to help our farmers,” he said.
He said that the government is concerned about disease control, especially foot and mouth disease which had hit Githunguri farmers which lowered the milk production.
‘We have agreed that the Kenya vaccine production institute and other vaccine manufacturers to ensure dairy cooperatives and processor can have director access for vaccines to our farmers so that when we have our healthy cows will increase production,’ he said.
Alfred K’Ombudo principal secretary state department of trade said that their mission is to see how the government can revitalize the dairy sector
“Once the farmers have put in a lot of effort to produce and after the cooperative society has similarly put in infrastructure and effort to produce the market should also work well both for the farmer and the cooperative society,” K’Ombudo said.
He said that the retail sector needs to work in a way the payments are made promptly for suppliers in the retail channels and the department will support an environment whereby when you are distributing your products you are not facing a lot of levies and other additional costs that makes it difficult for you to get into the market.
“we are very concerned that the retail side works well for producer and farmers, we are also concerned that transit of goods across counties happens efficiently and without costs and we are also keen with our producers to develop export market because we believe that there are several markets including the middle east, south Sudan and many other areas whereby we can process Ghee, yoghurt, condensed milk so that we can put more money in the hands of farmers,’ he said.