North Rift maize growers eye greener pastures in dairy

Uasin Gishu is traditionally known for being the grain basket of the country, but due to dwindling prices coupled with the invasion of the maize lethal necrosis disease, farmers are now venturing into dairy farming.

Mr Nixon Cheplong’, a former artificial insemination specialist at Makongi Farm is the brainchild behind an initiative which is making a difference in local dairy farming.

Mr Cheplong’ has established Teta Dairy and Breeding Company, a cattle breeding firm that buys, breeds and supplies first grade livestock to farmers. 

“The initiative is basically aimed at providing a platform for dairy farmers to get high quality breeds which can give them maximum yields,” he told the Business Daily. “The price of a cow matches the production value intended.”

The dairy company has already supplied more than 900 heifers to farmers in West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Mt Elgon, Lake Basin Development Authority, Naivasha Training Institute, Kisii Farmers Training Centre, Child and Family Care Programme in Kabarnet, Mogotio Livestock and World Bank-funded programmes.

The initiative has boosted milk production in the area as it has gone a long way in curbing risks farmers face after buying a cow in a public auction thus increasing the chances of diseases spreading.

Mr Cheplong’s study in agribusiness management and livestock production has blended well with his wealth of experience in dairy cattle breeding.

“As a specialist in breeding, I am able to look at a cow and identify just how much work is needed to bring it up to high productive level,” he says.

Teta Dairy and Breeding Company sells dairy cows at between Sh60,000 and Sh160,000, depending on the animals’ quality and whether it is pregnant. The company plans to partner with county governments to supply dairy farmers with quality breeds to boost milk production and their income.

To assure the farmers of maximum returns, Mr Cheplong’s company allows buyers to return a cow if one feels it does not meet one’s expectations.

“We usually make follow-ups by assisting farmers to see that they have quality yield. We provide technical advice on matters of diet and health,” he said.

The proprietor started the company in 2011 after working as a veterinary consultant. The venture has since grown, creating employment opportunities for residents of the county.

He said the company has also empowered farmers some of whom have ventured into value addition. He gave the example of a dairy farmer in Namanga who is producing high quality yoghurt.

The company now plans to set up a dairy processing plant near the Moi University School of Law in Eldoret that is expected to create more jobs for the youth.