The current rains pounding parts of the Rift Valley have translated to increased milk production for thousands of dairy farmers across the region.
However, even as the rains fall in plenty, processors are advising farmers to learn from the five months of drought the country experienced at the beginning of the year.
“We are cautioning our farmers that these rains are unpredictable and they need to do a lot of fodder preservation,” said New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) Managing Director Nixon Sigey.
Mr Sigey said the extension officers at the firm have embarked on training farmers through their cooperative societies on fodder preservation.
Many dairy farmers are still faced with the challenge of ensuring consistency in production especially during drought. Industry stakeholders point to reliance on rain-fed production as a major hindrance to the realization of the sector’s full potential.
Brookside Dairy, which procures nearly half of all the raw milk produced in the Rift Valley, says production has increased by 15 per cent over the past five months.
Many farmers attribute this to the short rains currently being experienced in the region.
“The Rift Valley region has recorded better intakes from farmers since the rains began in June, leading to a considerable increase in production in the country,” said Mr John Gethi, Brookside’s director of milk procurement.
Brookside recently upgraded Nakuru raw milk bulking station which is now cooling over 100,000 litres of milk per day.
Some of the areas experiencing huge volumes of milk include Olenguruone, Keringet, Molo and Dundori.
However, the challenge of fluctuation in milk production is a major cause for worry in the processors’ strategic plans.
“As a major processor in the country, this is one area we are addressing seriously as we seek to build the capacity of dairy farmers to produce milk throughout the year,” Mr Gethi said.
Mr Sigey said that last year some regions in the country recorded a sharp drop in production by as much as 50 per cent due to drought.
“Feeding of dairy animal is critical to profitable dairy venture and as New KCC our emphasise is not just feeding but proper and quality feeding,” said Mr Sigey.
Industry regulator Kenya Dairy Board says the drought cut back overall production by 29 per cent across the country.