Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has asked residents to embrace dairy farming and take advantage of the Sh 110 million milk processing plant being constructed by the county government to improve their incomes.
Governor Oparanya who spoke at Tuembeni grounds in Malava Sub-County during the ground breaking ceremony for the project on Thursday said farmers in the region should diversify to alternative sources of income to cushion themselves from tough times.
The project targets to provide a boost to dairy farming in the region which relies on milk supply from the neighbouring Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties.
The county has an estimated 50,000 dairy farmers but milk production remains dismal due to challenges related to overreliance on traditional breeds of cows.
Mr Oparanya said the county government was focused on ensuring the financially struggling Mumias Sugar Company which was last month placed under receivership was back on track.
“It is the policy of the County Government to diversify agricultural production considering that there are many risks in over-dependence on mono-crop production.
“Our experience with sugarcane is very fresh in our minds and it is time we tried other forms of farming to cushion farmers against turbulence in the market. At the national level, dairy farming is the single largest sub-sector of agriculture in Kenya,” said Mr Oparanya.
But the project could run into hurdles if dairy farmers fail to increase milk production to ensure the processing plant has adequate supply of milk when fully operational.
SMART FARMS PROJECT
Dairy farmers in the region are currently producing 250,000 litres of milk daily while the processing plant’s capacity for single production line is 50,000 litres. The plant will be upgraded to four active lines.
But Governor Oparanya said the “One Cow Initiative” project by the county government targets to produce 135,000 litres of milk to improve production. The region relies on milk from Lugari, Likuyani and Malava.
The initiative by the county government will be supplemented by smart farms to be set up in the 12 Sub Counties.
Nearly 6,000 litres of milk will be produced per day by the smart farms which will act as the nucleus of the dairy plant. The farms will also produce breeding stock for farmers and act as collection centres for the neighbouring dairy farmers.