Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has hosted the chairman of Northern States Governors Forum in Nigeria at the newly established Maragua Cooperative Creameries.
Mr Simon Lalong, who is in Kenya on a benchmarking tour, was Tuesday taken through a tour of the milk plant in Maragua.
He also received tips from Mr Wa Iria on avocado production and the cooperative movement.
Murang’a is the largest producer of avocados and has the highest number of cooperative scieties in Kenya.
Also present was Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony.
Mr Wa Iria narrated to the visiting Nigerian governor how his administration has maintained a steady milk price through the establishment of the milk factory.
“The milk plant has ensured that the milk prices do not go down and our farmers are being paid Sh35 as opposed to the country’s poor market prices,” he said.
He added that his administration will be launching a one-home-one-cow project by January 2020 in a bid to ensure that each family in Murang’a owns a dairy cow.
This, he said, will help households get income by selling milk to local cooperatives.
He said the milk factory was his flagship project when he joined politics in 2013 and the completion and operationalisation of the Sh500 million milk plant will ensure more money goes into farmers’ pockets.
“When I became governor, I assured milk farmers that I would ensure their milk is paid at a constant price of Sh35 (per litre) and this came to be. We purchased 35 milk coolers for each ward which we gave to our farmers who had been grouped together in cooperatives before we commenced building the plant. Now that the plant has started operations, we intend to increase the price to Sh40 shillings,” Mr Wa Iria told the Nation.
He said in six months’ time, the plant will start processing milk products such as cheese, yoghurt and creams in efforts to boost value addition.
The governor said his administration has ensured most residents have joined cooperatives in order to ensure that they have bargaining power in regard to their products.
“Nearly every member of each home in Murang’a is a member of a cooperative. We have been able to bring together dairy and avocado farmers and this has made them have money in their pockets,” he said.
He said that before he became governor, farmers used to get between Sh1 and Sh3 per avocado fruit but after partnering with avocado buyers like Kakuzi Limited, farmers are now paid between Sh19 and Sh35 depending on the quality of the fruit and an additional Sh19 bonus from their sales.
"After protecting our farmers from the exploitation by middlemen, they are now paid handsomely and can afford to cater for their families with a crop that used to be the source of wealth to brokers,” Mr Wa Iria said.
His Nigerian counterpart said he will introduce the one-home-one-cow programme in his country in order to bring to an end the perennial conflict between farmers and herders.
“I have learnt a lot; the one-family-one-cow programme is a milestone in solving the conflicts between herders and farmers and this will be replicated once I go back to my country,” he said.
Mr Lalong added that there is need for African leaders to embark in intra-countries tours instead of going to European countries for benchmarking.
“We should promote Africa by learning what our colleagues are doing and to do it in our own countries instead of going abroad to learn from other countries,” he said.