The government has rolled out a programme designed to increase dairy farmers’ incomes through improved production and access to favorable markets for their products.
The programme dubbed Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme (SDCP) and implemented with county governments’ seeks to enable farmers meet the demand of milk in the market.
Livestock Principal Secretary Dr. Andrew Tuimur said the programme funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is being undertaken in nine counties.
IFAD has been funding the programme since 2006 in nine counties. To date over 20,000 farmers have commercialized their dairy production against a target of 24,000 for phase one of SDCP; majority of them being women, he said.
Dr. Tuimur noted that the farmers have been able to increase their daily incomes from S30 to Sh386 ensuring that they meet their daily needs comfortably.
In Kenya approximately 1 million rural poor households depend on dairy and related products for their livelihoods as smallholder dairy farmers.
IFAD, the PS said is reviewing the project later this year with a view of extending it and confirmed that the government has already initiated talks with the organization to have it extended.
The dairy farmers suffer from poor production compounded with bad markets resulting to low household incomes and nutritional challenge as the milk cannot meet the daily subsistence needs, he noted.
This he added has resulted in a cycle of poverty despite farmers having dairy animals that should lift them from this situation.
Dr. Tuimur said IFAD and government has been working with smallholder farmers in Nakuru, Bungoma, Bomet, Kisii, Kakamega, Nandi, Nyamira, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties.
The nine counties were chosen as pilots and the government is in the process of rolling this programme to other counties in the country in an effort to ensure that farmers do commercial dairy production, he added.
Dr. Tuimur said that the annual milk production in the pilot counties has increased by 420 percent to 26 million liters compared to a baseline of 5 million liters in 2007 and the milk he added has been purchased by the Strategic Food Reserve to convert it to powder to be used when the market experiences shortage.
To further address the surplus milk production the government has purchased eleven, 5000 liter capacity milk coolers for the co-operatives creating over 46,000 jobs in these counties directly contributing to government’s promise of creation of job opportunities, confirmed Tuimur.
The government is tackling the challenge of seasonality in feeds production due to unpredictable weather patterns and disease outbreaks by educating farmers on conservation measures and carrying out strategic livestock vaccination campaigns.
Source: Kenya News Agency