State recommends milk imports amid shortages


Milk processing at the Meru Dairy Union. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKAL | NMG

The Agriculture ministry has proposed a one-month window for the importation of milk to address the current shortage that has seen the price of the commodity rise significantly.

The ministry says there is reduced milk productivity as a result of poor rains and it wants processors to be allowed to import UHT and powder milk to ease the situation.

The National Food and Nutrition Security Report indicates that milk production in Kenya has been below average while prices have been increasing.

“Short term response (is) requested to increase imports of fast-moving milk products over a period of one month for processing only by processors,” says the ministry in a report seen by the Business Daily.

The Kenya Dairy Board did not respond to the Business Daily’s queries on whether it has authorised the commencement of milk importation.

The price of a 500ml packet has now gone up by a further Sh3 across all the brands, subjecting consumers to more pain at a time when they are grappling with an increase in the cost of other basic commodities.

KDB managing director Margret Kibogy said the agency was monitoring the situation and was yet to decide on imports.

“We will only make that decision (to import) if the supplies situation gets too low,” said Ms Kibogy earlier.

The country has exhausted stocks of powder milk that are normally turned into fresh milk during dry seasons to supplement limited supplies coming in from farmers.

Processors normally convert excess milk into long-life products such as powder milk, which is then stored in the strategic food reserve for future use.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows the formal sector recorded an intake of 802 million litres of milk last year against 684 million that was realised a year earlier.

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