hThe Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) is considering controlling farmgate milk prices to protect farmers from exploitation by processors.
KDB director Machira Gichohi said the board had commenced consultations with dairy farmers across the country to get views on how to go about the policy shift.
“We have held talks with dairy farmers in Bomet, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Nyeri and Kiambu counties as we seek public participation in coming up with recommendations,” he said.
Mr Gichohi said the move is necessary as dairy farmers have raised concerns over the fluctuating raw milk prices. He said the milk prices in the country are erratic and cannot sustain the farmer. Raw milk prices are set to drop further starting Tuesday to Sh30, following increased supply.
Brookside Dairy notified farmers through short text messages that from Tuesday it will buy raw milk at Sh30 per litre from the current Sh35 and Sh40 in February.
Kenya Dairy Traders Association (KDTA) chairman Samuel Njoroge said there is a reliable market network to sustain a stable pricing for the farmer’s milk.
New KCC chairman Matu Wamae said lack of structures to handle milk gluts is to blame for the random prices offered in the country.
“In times of milk gluts especially during wet seasons, all milk processors respond to discourage new deliveries by effecting price cuts. The price fluctuation is simply a matter of supply and capacity to offload into the market,” he said.
Mr Wamae said the sector should be revamped to embrace vibrant dairy cooperatives and that will be funded to pursue value addition.
“We cannot be talking of intentions to raise returns for the farmer when what we are recurrently doing is to deal with raw products. Unless we pool our milk together for required volumes, make it healthy and hygienic as well as add value to be in the market with multiple products, we remain stuck at ground zero,” he said.
Mr Gichohi said the industries’ undoing is reliance on traditional trial and error policies whose implementation leaves the farmer in a “market bouncing castle.”
“We cannot continue hiding our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. We should rise from usual rhetoric and escapist justifications whenever the dairy farmer raises concerns of such grave nature,” Mr Gichohi said.
He said the farmers have been wondering why a litre of milk in supermarkets costs Sh100 whereas the farm-gate price is Sh28.
The KDB director said his board has been touring countries that have vibrant dairy sectors in the world to learn what locally is being done wrongly.
“We have come to a conclusion that most of our policies are working against our core agenda of improving returns for the farmers while using the dairy sector as a vehicle of wealth creation. That is what we intend to change,” he said.
However, he ruled out relaxing laws on milk hawking.
He said no one will be allowed to transport milk in unapproved containers, without a valid licence from the board as well as dealing in unpasteurised milk.
“Milk is one of the high risk consumer products that all necessary caution has to be closely guarded. The least we want is a health disaster,’’ he said.