Dairy farmers in Taita Taveta County are looking at higher revenues after a major processor announced that it will partner with local groups and the local government to grow milk production.
Brookside Dairy, which processes more than 45 per cent of all milk produced in the county, says it has also enhanced the operational capacity of the Wumingu cooling plant in Wundanyi to enable it cool 10,000 litres per day up from the current 7,000 litres.
Brookside’s director of milk procurement, John Gethi, urged farmers to commercialise the activity by supplying the commodity as groups to the processor.
“By joining dairy groups, farmers stand a better chance to benefit from reduced cost of production as they will supply their milk in bulk,” he said, adding that it will boost their income.
Mr Gethi said Tuesday that income from raw milk sales to the processor grew to Sh54 million last year up from Sh52 million in the previous year.
"This indicates that fortunes of the more than 10,000 smallholder dairy farmers are headed for better prospects," he said.
Mt Gethi attributed the higher earnings registered last year to adoption of fodder conservation by farmers in the region.
Brookside will partner with the county department of agriculture to boost milk production through investment in climate smart dairy practices such as preparation of animal feeds and water harvesting during the rainy season.
Governor Granton Samboja also announced plans to install an animal semen storage facility in the county that is the largest milk producer at the Coast.
According to Mr Samboja, the Sh100 million liquid nitrogen plants which will be commissioned in Voi town to enable dairy farmers access artificial insemination services with ease.
“Once the facility is set up, dairy farmers who have been depending on semen transported from Kabete and other places will easily access the services at affordable price,” he said in an interview today.
The county boss said he was working closely with the national government to ensure the facility is installed as soon as possible to help farmers who have been facing challenges accessing the service.
Mr Samboja has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Center (KAGRC) to kick start installation of the storage facility.
The agreement will see livestock farmers benefit from subsidised services where the government agency will sell semen to the county at a cost of Sh200.
According to statistics from Kenya Dairy Board (KDB), more than one million smallholders are involved in dairy farming in the country, thus creating about 500,000 direct job opportunities in processing, distribution and marketing of milk.
The dairy sector also accounts for about 750 indirect jobs created through support service industries such as animal health, breeding and supply of equipment.