Bukura Agricultural College finally starts to produce its own milk products after years of focusing on training only.
Sometime back, Bukura Agricultural College in Kakamega County was described as a sleeping giant.
The oldest agricultural training institution in the country, set up in 1924, according to critics was doing little besides the training of agriculturalists – its core function.
The institution, it is apparent, did not take the criticism lightly and is waking up from ‘slumber’.
The college has set up a milk processing plant to make yoghurt, mala and pasteurised milk as it seeks to turn around its fortunes and train all-round agri-entrepreneurs.
“The processing plant is the first step in commercialising our agricultural activities since our establishment. We make several products but yoghurt is our priority,” says Dr Richard Wekesa, the principal.
The plant was started in July last year with funding from the German government, which donated processing equipment worth Sh34 million.
“We are currently processing 600 litres of milk into various products daily that include yoghurt and mala from our 34 out of the 80 dairy cows we have,” says Wekesa, noting the animals are mainly of the Jersey, Friesian and Guernsey breeds.
The institution sells the products packaged in 100, 250 and 500ml packs and branded Bukura College in Kakamega, Vihiga, Siaya, Bungoma and Busia counties.
The products go for between Sh30 and Sh70. David Wafula, the processing supervisor, says the institution produces three different blends of yoghurt namely strawberry, vanilla and coconut.
“We also buy milk from farmers at Sh40 a litre. Once we get it, the milk is weighed and thereafter checked for quality before we process it,” he says.
BOOST DAIRY PRODUCTION
The plant has processing capacity of between 2,000 and 5,000 litres of milk daily and is expected to open up new marketing channels for dairy farmers in the region.
“Our aim of starting the project was to help ease milk shortage in Kakamega and neighbouring counties because the region mainly relies on milk imports. Our target is to increase our herd to 200 dairy animals and our production to 2,000 litres by next year,” he says, noting the processing unit is registered and certified by the Kenya Dairy Board and the products by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Josephat Wambugu, the plant manager, says they feed the animals on silage, hay and also allow them to graze in paddocks.
“This style of feeding enables us to produce good quality milk at low cost. Each animal produces an average of 16 litres of milk per milking session and we milk three times in a day.” says Wambugu, noting the institution is currently in the process of preparing silage to last them a year.
Dr Robert Egessa, a lecturer at Masinde Muliro University, says the processing plant will improve the region’s economy calling on farmers to practice dairy farming in large-scale because of the ready market. Dr Egessa says following troubles in the sugar sector in the region, dairy farming can help improve incomes.
Simon Wesechere, the Director of Rural Information on Agriculture and Development Centre, an NGO, called on farmers to shift to dairy production.
“Bukura College yoghurt will certainly boost dairy production. The institution should start recruiting more farmers who will be supplying them with milk to curb its shortage.”