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Elgeyo-Marakwet invests in huge milk coolers to support county milk brand

nyala dairy milk cooler

Dairy farmers belonging to over 11 cooperatives in Elgeyo-Marakwet County are set to benefit from more than 30,000 litre capacity milk coolers that the county, in partnership with the national government, is setting up in the area to cushion producers from losses incurred during rainy seasons.

In Kenya, each year around 95 million litres of milk are lost, at a value of around $22.4m per year. Losses are highest at the farm level, adding up to $15.4m a year. This is occasioned by milk spoilage, especially during the rainy season when production is at the peak, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

However, the move by the two governments offers some relief to dairy farmers, who in the past have been forced to pour away their milk in the event of any surfeit of the product, leading to losses and even exist from dairy farming.

heavy duty milk cooler 500x500Livestock and Cooperative Development Executive Member Dr. Joseph Kiyeng said, during the commencement of the installation of 12 milk cooling plants across the county last week, that several farmers were reducing dairy production because of falling milk prices and the continuing rise in the cost of production.

“I know several of our farmers are almost abandoning dairy production owing to several challenges especially the cost of milk. With a cooler, we can negotiate with processors since we have a holding ground…our milk can wait for a day or two to get into the market,” said Kiyeng, adding that the milk coolers are expected to be fully operational by the end of March.

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Farmers from Korkitony, Bugar, Kipchiloi, Kaptarakwa and Kapteren Cooperative Societies are some of the groups that will each benefit from a 3200-litre milk cooler complete with a 30 KVA backup generator. Others are Kapsitotwa, Metkei, Kapsait FCS, Turesia and Kaptarakwa Farmers’ Cooperative Societies, while Sergoit Ngeny Dairy Farmers is having a 2000-litre cooler installed for them. 

Bugar Farmers’ Cooperative Society Chairman William Kiptoo welcomed the installation of the cooler terming it as a breakthrough for farmers.

 “We have a lot of milk around here (Bugar and its environs) and I was worried we could disappoint our farmers since we expect more to venture into the dairy sector following the expected purchase of cows through EDA in our ward. What we now need is having a reliable market – hopefully, we are headed to the right direction,” he said.

David Ruto from Kapsait said farmers were shifting from potato production to the dairy sector following the receding production of potatoes in the area. “We have not been producing (potatoes) as before…I think we need options and dairy production is the way to go. I thank the county government for coming to our rescue,” he said.

RELATED CONTENT:Kisii County gives farmers free milk coolers to up income

Dr Kiyeng assured farmers of better milk prices adding that the department was already engaging the national milk processor, The New  Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC), so that they could buy milk from the coolers.

Recently, the newly appointed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya directed the KCC to start purchasing milk from farmers at Sh33 per litre, up from Sh27.

In a parallel move aimed at reducing the cost of production, Dr Kiyeng also said the county will install a livestock feed formulation plant at Kabiemit, silage making equipment in Sengwer, and continue the vaccination of livestock and offering subsidized AI services to farmers.

RELATED CONTENT:Kisii County gives farmers free milk coolers to up income

He said the county’s vision in adding value to milk produce was to facilitate all cooperative societies in the county in selling their milk under the ELMA brand. “This has always been the vision of His Excellency Governor Alex Tolgos and I am happy we are headed there. Once our coolers operate at the optimum, we will bulk our milk and have it processed under and sold under the trade name ELMA milk,” he said.

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