Farm, founded by Phyllis Keino and owned by Lewa Children’s Home-Trust, is one
of the top dairy establishments in Kenya. The farm, which also houses the Lewa
Children’s home and the Kipkeino School was initially focused on wheat and
maize cultivation until 1993, when Dutch Jos Creemers took over operations and
diverted most of the efforts into dairy.
Today the farm has
more than 100 dairy cows, which supply milk, yoghurt and cheese to the Lewa
Children’s Home and the Kipkeino School. 90% of output leftover is sold locally
and in various other shops and supermarkets across the country.
But the journey to
the top was not paved with green grass and a lot of cheese; Baraka had humble
beginnings, growing up from a children’s home that was started in the 1970s. In
1987, Phyllis Keino, the founder of the home, managed to buy the
500-acre piece of land on which the farm now sits, with the help of good
friends, the late David and Delia Craig of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in
Her idea was to grow
the farm into the venture it is now; providing food for the children at Lewa
Children’s Home, and the surplus being sold to generate additional revenue. But
as straight-forward as the plan looked on paper, getting it to take off was a
another challenge because Phyllis could not raise the funds needed to shape Baraka into a yielding farm, in addition to taking care of the more than 60 children.
Luckily, in 1988, Tom Glue, a volunteer signed to the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO),
joined the farm and helped set up the initial structures on the farm, among
them a farmhouse and temporary stores. He also started a dairy herd and bought
a few of the essential farm machinery. But just as the farm was beginning to
take shape, in 1991, Glue’s contract term ended and he left. By 1992 the farm
was in such desperate shape that Phyllis considered selling it-but this
was not to be.
One year later, in 1993,
Mr. Creemers arrived on the farm, also as a VSO volunteer, and although he initially
had to contend with a number of challenges, including a collapsed borehole, by
1999 things had begun to look up. In the initial restructuring, Mr. Creemers
purchased more second-hand machinery, which he maintains were affordable and
helped improve efficiency on the farm.
Creemers and his team
started harvesting rainwater in reservoirs which helped to secure water for the
dry season on the one hand and drain water-logged land on the other hand. The
ultimate goal was to improve milk production and crop yields as well as reforestate the land- 5000 trees have also been planted on the farm every year since 1995.
Today, Baraka, which
has 20 regular employees, produces over 1000 litres of milk per day and two tonnes
of top-grade cheese and other dairy products per month.
“The difference with
other dairy products in the market is that Baraka Farmhouse Cheese and Yoghurt are
made from the high quality milk, with a germ count far below
100,000 and a somatic cell count of less than 250,000,” said Creemers. The maximum allowed germ count for cow milk products is 100,000 bacteria per ml of milk, while the maximum allowed somatic cell count is 400,000 cells per ml.
“The Home and the
Kipkeino School have been enjoying a fresh supply of milk, fermented milk (maziwa
mala), fresh vegetables and wood fuel-all produced on the farm.”
The rest is sold at the Baraka Farm Shop under
the brand-name Baraka Farmhouse Cheese.
In addition, for the
past 15 years, Baraka Farm has been conducting five dairy skills training
sessions every month, receiving thousands of visitors from all over East Africa.The Farm has its own breeding stock and will be parading four Holstein Fresian (HF) bulls during the
Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC) Bull Show on October 28.
that Africa has all the resources needed to feed its population, but it is not
doing so because of a number of reasons among them a lack of interest and
persistence in farming by the youth. “A lack of expertise and interest in
farming among the younger generations has led to underutilization of the region’s
natural advantages,” he said.
But there is hope for
coming generations, because the children who grow up at the Lewa Home are
taught the importance of farming.
“As they grow up,
they help a lot on the farm. And I know they will reach to a point in their
life when they will say ‘hey, well we used to do it like that on the farm where
I grew up’.”
Baraka Farm is in Uasin Gishu County,along the Webuye-Malaba Road. You can reach them using the phone numbers: +254 700 342 758 and +254 705 884 233 or Emails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org