The Treasury has approved a Sh300 million supplementary budget for the Ministry of Agriculture to buy powdered milk, a key commodity in the strategic food reserve.
The ministry had requested Sh500 million for the purchase to cushion farmers from a milk glut ahead of the next financial year.
The government plans to buy excessive milk from farmers for processing into powdered form for storage.
Agriculture secretary Willy Bett told Parliament that structures are in place for inclusion of milk in the strategic food reserve which also comprise maize, beans, rice, fish and canned beef.
“While the Sh300 million for milk is not sufficient, let us appreciate that this is just the beginning,” Mr Bett told the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives.
The strategic food reserve was established in 2015 to ensure availability of food in the event of emergencies, shortages in the market and famine.
Prior to its establishment there was only the strategic grain reserve, launched in 2002 to cushion farmers from effects of oversupply in periods of good weather.
The government transformed the strategic grain reserve to strategic food reserve trust fund through gazettement in 2015.
This was meant to facilitate stocking of critical foodstuffs such as maize, beans, rice, fish powdered milk and canned beef.
Primary consumers of the powdered are industries, milk processors, government institutions and schools.
Kenya is one of the leading producer and marketer of milk products in Africa with an estimated dairy herd population of four million. The annual production of milk is estimated at 5.2 billion litres against a consumption of about 4.3 billion litres.
The production and supply of the milk and its product varies with seasons while the month-to-month demand in the domestic market is relatively constant.
As a result, the country experiences excess milk production during the wet season like the recently ended one and scarcities during the dry season.
The key objective of including milk powder into the strategic food reserve will be to enhance food and nutritional security in the country.