Enterprise

Sacco unlocks financial inclusion among women

mutai

Anne Mutai, who is a dual member of the Torongo Dairy Farmers Society, feeding her dairy cows at Tugumoi in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County. PHOTO | KEVIN ROTICH | NMG

Moses Bartenge from Tugumoi in Eldama Ravine is a member of the Torongo Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society in Baringo County.

For 10 years now, he has been earning a living through the sale of milk to the farmers' group every month.

While all milk proceeds go to him directly, his wife Anne Mutai has been getting nothing since she is not a member of the sacco.

Mrs Mutai does not earn a dime despite playing a crucial role in the production process by feeding of cows and milking them.

However, the cooperative is championing for women inclusion in dairy farming, where male members are encouraged to donate a portion of their milk to their spouses. The push is increasingly paying off as more men embrace the idea.

Mr Bartenge is one of the members who adopted the idea. He has donated a share of his daily milk supply to his wife. Out of 15 litres, he keeps 10 litres while her wife takes five.

”I sat down and thought I should give my wife milk since she supports the family,” Mr Bartenge tells Enterprise. “For example, when I am on a trip and my children are sent for fees, she settles it.”

Women around the country have been neglected in various realms such as finance, farming and technology.

For generations, traditional norms have dictated the social structure of rural communities. Women are often relegated to unpaid farm work and household tasks while men receive training, resources and land.

Mr Bartenge advises men to stop discriminating women and empower them economically. "Let us stop trampling on women,” he says.

The cooperative manager, Wilson Cheromei says the farmers' society was started in 1963 with less than 100 members.

"The main reason for starting this processing plant was to collect members’ milk and also it was meant to foster pyrethrum growing," he says.

Out of more than 3,000 registered members, 900 are women thanks to dual membership that was supported by We Effect, a Swedish non-governmental organisation.

Through women participation, Mr Cheromeisays daily milk intake has increased to 7,000 litres during peak season from about 100 litres when they started.

"Dual membership has also been greatly supported in this cooperative. Currently, those under dual membership are not less than 100," Mr Cheromei says, adding that the sacco has a milk capacity of 15,000 litres with an investment of not less than Sh15 million.

He adds that women inclusion has boosted milk supply to the sacco as well as women participation in the community.

The dual membership, Mr Cheromei notes, has helped households reduce conflicts arising from sharing of finances. "We can see now conflicts in members’ families have been resolved," He says.

The sacco buys milk from Sh35 a litre during low season and Sh20 in high season. Were it not for the sacco, farmers would have been selling a litre of milk from as low as Sh10.

Mr Bartenge’s biggest challenges are the high cost of animal feeds and animal medicines, which eat into his profit.

For example, a 50-kilogramme of animal feed that they used to buy at Sh1,500 now goes for about Sh3,000.

“We do not have the capacity to buy them,” he adds.

He urges the government to lower the prices of animal inputs to help farmers who are currently struggling to survive.

Julius Cheruiyot and his wife Margaret Lagat from Tiripkatoi are also benefiting from dual membership.

While Mr Cheruiyot joined the sacco almost five years ago, his wife joined last year. Out of six litres of milk they supply to the sacco, the husband takes four litres and the wife two.

“Before the dual membership, I was the sole provider of the family from buying matchboxes, salt to sugar. I am now seeing the differences,” he says.

Before, Mr Cheruiyot says they experienced conflicts related to family finances, but this is now a thing of the past.

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