Dairy farmers in Kangema, Murang’a County have come together to venture into milk processing and have built a Sh300 million plant which will start its operations by the end of this year.
The over 5,000 dairy farmers have avoided bank loans, opting to contribute money from their own savings to venture into milk processing.
Once fully operational, the Kangema plant is expected to process 20,000 litres of milk per hour.
The farmers, who have registered a society by the name Kangema Unity Investment Cooperative, have also bought a 400-acre piece of land in Laikipia on which they plan to grow hay to be distributed to its members to complement the dairy farming.
According to the cooperative’s chairman John Mugo, the farmers decided to venture into the dairy sector to increase their earnings.
He said the plant will be operational by December and will be processing milk and making yoghurt and cheese.
“Farmers joined hands to reap big in the dairy sector. We decided to buy a 400-acre piece of land in Laikipia on which we will be growing hay to distribute to our farmers at a subsidised cost. They will also receive dividends from the sale of the milk and its products,” he said.
Mr Mugo added that the farmers have procured a cooler which can hold 10,000 litres of milk and that they intend to purchase more coolers for distribution to dairy farmers.
Former Kangema MP Tirus Ngahu, who is the patron of the initiative, said they started the project in order to uplift the lives of dairy farmers who have continued to receive meagre payments for their produce for a long time.
Mr Ngahu said collection centres will be established in Muguru, Kanyenya-ini and Rwathia wards to coordinate transportation of milk to the plant.
He said the decision to set up the milk processing plant was reached after buying the land after which they decided to use the remaining money to start building the milk factory.
“The 400 members raised money for procurement of land and the balance facilitated construction of the plant and buying of equipment. Each member acquired shares at Sh30,000,” Mr Ngahu said.
He urged the government to address challenges experienced by farmers so as to enable them increase production.
“The government should provide farmers with cheap loans that will enable them buy quality inputs and animal feeds for the purpose of increasing production,” he said.
The plant will be the third one in Murang’a after privately-owned Aspendo Dairies in Kangema town, Murang’a Cooperative Creameries which is owned by the Murang’a County government.
KCC runs two cooling plants in Githumu and Kangema markets.
Brookside Dairies also operates a cooling plant in Maragua town.