Milk sales in Nakuru County has risen steadily, thanks to the adoption of good agricultural practices in the dairy value chain.
This has transformed many smallholder farms in the region into profitable with farmers reaping the benefits of embracing new dairy technologies.
According to the county’s department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, 70 per cent of the total land acreage in Nakuru is agriculturally productive, with a huge capacity for livestock production, especially for dairy cows.
Many farmers in the region are making good profits with all the country’s major processors collecting milk both in the lower and high altitude regions of the county.
Farmers attribute the re-emergence of dairy as a strong pillar to the area’s economy to sustained empowerment by processors through training on good dairy practices that encourage growth in milk volumes.
Mr Samuel Ruto, the chairman of Kuresoi Dairy Co-operative Society, says milk production has been steadily rising over the past three years following sustained training on dairy cow husbandry by processors such as Brookside Dairy.
“In recent times, we have seen an upsurge in the number of farmers targeted by processors for extension services in the dairy enterprise, with a corresponding growth in milk production,” said Mr Ruto at the society’s Keringet offices.
“Following the adoption of these growth oriented practices disseminated at these trainings, our daily milk production at Kuresoi stands at nearly 10,000 litres per day, up from a paltry 800 litres a few years ago,” said Mr Ruto.
The leading processor provides a guaranteed market for milk delivered by the group, and assured payment for the supplies has lured many farmers to dairy farming.
During dairy training sessions, processors have been emphasising on the need to keep improved breed.
This has been made possible investment in artificial insemination. Farmers are also taught on establishment, preparation and storage of fodder.
“Majority of farmers living in areas bordering the Mau Forest like Keringet and Olenguruone have planted fodder crops and pasture grasses, which have often become useful during seasons of depressed rainfall. This has enabled us to sustain milk production volumes for most of the year,” said Mr Ruto.
Brookside Dairy’s director of milk procurement John Gethi, said the processor has been training farmers on climate resilient practices, such as fodder establishment.
“We developed a training model for our farmers that prioritises preparation and storage of animal feed and water harvesting to ensure that milk production remains optimum during all seasons,” he said.
According to Mr Gethi, capacity building for farmers had led to improved milk yield and productivity of smallholder farmers across the country’s milk producing zones.
“In the past, Nakuru, like other raw milk centres in the country, was bedevilled by the challenge of seasonality in production. This is one area we are addressing through our farmer empowerment strategy,” said Mr Gethi.
“Climate-smart actions in the dairy sector in Kenya have a huge potential in spurring growth in the milk value chain. That’s why feed preparation and conservation is a critical aspect in sustaining production throughout the year,” added Mr Gethi.
Brookside, which receives raw milk from more than 30 dairy co-operatives in Nakuru County, has partnered with a number of these groups to set up milk collection and cooling infrastructure, in all the sub-counties in Nakuru town.