Here’s what can be done to boost dairy farmers’ earnings - Daily Nation

Here’s what can be done to boost dairy farmers’ earnings

Friday July 17 2015

“The good news is that once animals are

“The good news is that once animals are vaccinated against East Coast fever, they remain immune for life,” David Bett.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Some farmers have not heard about KDFF, tell us exactly who you are.

DFF is the voice of dairy farmers. We represent farmers by articulating their needs and creating linkages between the stakeholders in the dairy value chain including governments, input and service suppliers, banks, insurance companies, research institutions and NGOs. We bring together over 200,000 dairy farming households from 26 farmers’ organisations, which operate dairy hubs in 15 counties.

There has been challenges on consistent milk prices across the country. What would you say hinders reliable and constant prices of milk?
Reliability on rain-fed agriculture, which leads to high milk production during the rainy season and low production in the dry season, is a big setback.

In addition to inadequate feeds, disease outbreaks, poor breeding technology and high cost of inputs and services affect consistent milk production. Price liberalisation has also had a mixed impact along the dairy value chain and marketing in general. The dairy industry occupies a special position among small-scale farmers.

Milk is produced everyday and gives a regular income to the numerous small producers. By coming together and pooling resources, small-scale farmers can easily access services, products, markets, resources and linkages.

So how does a farmer join KDFF and what does he or she stand to benefit?

We only deal with dairy farmers’ associations. They pay Sh50,000 to join, which can be staggered in three or four installments. They also pay 20 cents per litre of milk delivered a month.

SOUTH RIFT AGRIBUSINESS FAIR

We develop, review and implement strategic plans along the dairy value chain for members. We also develop, install and maintain accounting, dairy and agrovet software to help farmers manage their businesses. We facilitate the implementation of breeding, herd health, inputs and feed plans.

We support producer organisations in farmer training, exposure visits and provision of extension services. For instance, we have on August 7 and 8 the South Rift Agribusiness Fair at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, Njoro where agricultural product manufacturers and service providers will interact directly with consumers of their products, receive feedback and educate farmers on product use. Farmers will also learn about modern technologies, sales and marketing and financial services.

East Coast Fever is perhaps the most dreaded of all livestock diseases and it is very expensive to treat. What has your organisation done on this front to cushion farmers?

The disease leads to loss of milk, abortion, high cost of treatment and death. The good news is that once animals are vaccinated, they remain immune for life. KDFF has been vaccinating cows against the disease since 2012 after requisite authorisation by the veterinary department. So far, KDFF has vaccinated over 13,000 cattle against the disease.

Talking of vaccines, there is a proliferation of fake agro-chemical products in the market. What are you doing to reduce the havoc wreaked by this menace?
About 30 per cent of agro-chemical products are contaminated.

We are working with member producer organisations on an input platform that will act as quality control tool and reduce the number of middlemen between farmers and the products. Contracts with input manufacturers are being generated to guarantee the process.