Kenya’s largest dairy processor Brookside Dairies will establish hay production demonstration farms in 25 milk-producing counties to help address a shortfall in animal feeds supply due to the current drought.
Brookside director of milk procurement John Gethi said the training would equip farmers in self-help groups with hay production skills to guarantee feeds during dry seasons.
He said the programme, which was launched two years ago, had helped increase milk deliveries from one million litres in 2013 to 1.5 million litres last year. The firm paid the farmers Sh10 billion.
“We have increased the number of farms across the country which will be used as demo centres for dairy farmers in those areas. We want farmers to get first-hand information on best practices in hay production from farm management to storage,” said Mr Gethi.
Rain-fed agriculture, he said, had proved unreliable because many farmers were unable to sustain milk deliveries due to a lack of quality fodder for the animals.
Brookside said it had developed a feed preparation and preservation manual and distributed it to 20,000 farmers who underwent training in the past year.
“Brookside will meet the cost of setting up the demo farms, including inducting the farm owners on record keeping,” he said, adding that the move was meant to retain its milk suppliers as well as attract others to the business.
Last year, milk deliveries to all milk processors in the country grew by 11 per cent to stand at 600 million litres, mainly attributed to availability of adequate pastures.
Other major processors in the country include State-owned New KCC, Githunguri, Kiambaa, Afrodane, Countryside, Meru Farmers, Uplands Dairies and Palmhouse Dairies.