Brookside upgraded its milk cooling and processing plants to ensure that there is nil down-time in its production plans. Photo NMG.
North Rift region dairy farmers earned Sh2.3bn from raw milk the farmers sold to Brookside Dairy last year indicating a six per cent rise in earnings this is after diversifying their farming ventures to avoid over-reliance on maize and wheat production which the region is well known for.
Maize production in Uasin Gishu County dropped from 4.4 million to 3.7 million bags in January this year harvesting season while wheat yield reduced to 430,000 bags from 466,000 bags in 2017. This was attributed to the outbreak of fall armyworms led to increased cost of production and low yield while heavy rains during harvest period resulted in rotting of the crop, according to the county agricultural ministry.
More farmers in the region are now adopting the dairy enterprise as Brookside and other milk processors such as New KCCC and Daima intensify milk hunt in the area by setting cooling facilities in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties cooling centres.
New KCC, for example, last year completed an upgrade of its Eldoret UHT factory, as it intends to expand its footprint in the region.
According to Brookside’s milk procurement director, John Gethi, the increase in the sales were spurred by the upping in price of farm gate prices to Sh37 indicating a 42 per cent increase in buying prince that has enticed farmers.
“Besides increasing our intake prices, the company has also upgraded its milk cooling and processing plants in the region and other places to ensure that there is nil down-time in its production plans,” said Gethi.
The company has 300 dairy groups and 160,000 farmers across the country who have been put on milk supply contracts to assure the farmers that the company shall procure 100 per cent of volumes as stated in the contract document.
Milk production has risen by 25 per cent due to the current rains being experienced in the country, according to Kenya Dairy Board (KDB).
The dairy industry accounts for 14 per cent of agricultural GDP and 6-8 per cent of the country’s GDP. According to USAID the industry generates an estimated one million jobs at farm level and an additional 500,000 in direct waged employment and another 750,000 jobs in support services.
KBD in January this year launched the fourth cycle strategic plan for 2017 to 2022 that will also address challenges caused by seasonality of milk production and give guidelines on how to make milk safe and ensure its quality.