On average, a smallholder farmer gets 10 to 15 litres of milk a day, with the one milked in the morning being sold while the evening one is sometimes lost due to poor storage.
Such losses can be curbed by value addition using simple home processing methods to make fermented milk, ghee and cheese.
Yoghurt can be made at home by first adding four table spoons of sugar to a litre of fresh milk and then boiling it. Appropriate food colours and flavours are added before boiling the milk. The milk is then cooled to 45 degrees Celsius.
This can be measured using a thermometer which is available in many agrovet shops at Sh100.
Two tablespoons of commercial yoghurt is then added and the milk kept in an aluminium container at 42 degrees Celsius for three to four hours.
The temperature can be maintained using a fireless cooker after which the milk is cooled. It is better served chilled.
Milk products like mala, mursik and suusa are produced by fermenting the produce in vessels like clay pots or gourds.
For mursik, a popular Kalenjin delicacy, the gourd is washed with warm water and dried. It is then rubbed inside with burning end of a stick called itoik. The sticks are obtained from a tree called sinetwed.
The main purpose of using the specific stick is to improve the flavour of mursik, sterilise the gourd and colour the product.
Raw milk is put into the gourd for seven to 10 days to sour. The product is consumed alone or with ugali.
Different communities use similar procedures to ferment milk but there are variations in the type of vessels used and in the fact that some boil milk before they put in the container.
Suusa is made from raw camel milk and it is common among the Somalis. It is good that the milk is boiled to avoid diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellosis.
It is important to note that milk coagulation or mala production may be done by adding commercial mala to boiled milk to provide bacterial culture.
Ghee is traditionally made by scooping cream from milk and putting it in a container.
The cream is boiled then separated from the remaining liquid.
This liquid, usually called buttermilk, can be consumed or fed to animals. Cream separation can be improved using a cream separator.
Home-made cheese is made by separating curd from coagulated milk using a fine white clean piece of cloth and squeezed to remove the whey.
The curd is then put into a perforated mould (which can be made at home) and left overnight. It is then cut in suitable blocks and sprinkled with salt.
The sized blocks are then put in 15 per cent salt solution. The cheese is then ready for consumption and sale.
NUTRITIOUS DAIRY PRODUCTS
Fermented milk products are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Proteins in the products are more easily digestible than those in raw milk since they are partly degraded by lactic acid bacterial proteolytic system.
Fermented products further help to restore the correct balance of intestinal flora, prevent gastrointestinal infections and enable easy digestibility of lactose in lactose intolerant patients.
Ndungi Faith, Nato Samwel, Kashongwe Olivier, Dairy Products Team, Egerton University