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Modern skills help Mt Elgon dairy farmers earn better returns

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John Gethi, Brookside Dairy director of milk procurement. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

Summary

  • Smallholder dairy farmers in Mt Elgon, western Kenya saw their income rise by two percent last year on adoption of best farming practises.
  • Producers in the catchment, which traverses Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties, earned Sh115 million from raw milk sales in spite of shocks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Smallholder dairy farmers in Mt Elgon, western Kenya saw their income rise by two percent last year on adoption of best farming practises.

Producers in the catchment, which traverses Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties, earned Sh115 million from raw milk sales in spite of shocks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The increase in milk production and earnings is attributed to adoption of climate resilient practices such as animal feed conservation, that enabled the supply to remain at optimum levels for most of the year,” said Geoffrey Malombo, who markets his raw milk to Brookside through local dairy group Mt Elgon Livelihoods CBO in Kitale.

Farmers in Trans Nzoia earned Sh85 million, while their counterparts from Bungoma were paid Sh30 million for raw milk deliveries, underscoring the important role of dairy to economies of the two counties

Brookside Dairy, which is the main market player in the area, has scaled up its capacity to procure more milk from farmers, following an upgrade of its cooling facilities at the Kitale raw milk bulking station, which currently has a peak performance of 100,000 litres daily.

John Gethi, Brookside’s director of milk procurement and manufacturing, said the processor has been keen on building the resilience of smallholder farmers through adoption of sustainable dairy practices, besides provision of a guaranteed market for their milk.

“Our emphasis has always been market-oriented approach to production that ensures sustainable milk supply across all seasons of the year,” Mr Gethi said at the processor’s Kitale cooling centre.

“On-farm practices that ensure that milk is produced by healthy cattle under sustainable economic, social and environmental conditions remain the hallmark of our extension service to farmers across the country.”

According to Mr Gethi, supplying milk in groups had enabled farmers to better manage their costs of production, with co-operatives shoring up the benefits of economies of scale.