Tough times await smallholder dairy farmers following the publication of new regulations by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) that if approved by the National Assembly will literally make the trading in raw milk in the country illegal.
This essentially means that a farmer will not be allowed to sell their fresh milk to neighbours, hawkers and other consumers without processing at their farm gates in a move that stifles family incomes and increase liabilities of registration and licensing to engage in the trade.
The net effect of these laws that are yet to be presented to the National Assembly is to empower established milk dealers to collect milk from the gates of farmers at the prices of their choice as they are the ones with the capabilities to pasteurise the product.
The Dairy Industry Licensing Regulations 2018, among the 12 set of rules published by KDB, provide that a person shall not sell, offer for sale or expose for consumption, any milk in raw form.
In the absence of processors, farmers are required to take their milk to a cooling facility.
Here is a list of some of the proposed regulations:
- The price of raw milk to be based on quality and safety parameters. Producers or distributors to test milk for aflatoxins, butterfat, bacterial count, somatic cell count, added water values and solids content.
- Producers or distributors who fail quality test milk before buying face imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or Sh500,000 fine or both.
- Producers who do not adhere to the board pricing model to face imprisonment not exceeding three months or Sh100,000 fine or both.
- The board to advise on price for different qualities, grades or types of diary produce. Board says pricing to be determined by incorporating values for quality-based payment system, value chain costs and approved sales margins.
- No diary dealer allowed to sell or import any diary equipment, material or additives without a permit issued by the milk board.
- All milk producers required to provide details about their products and location to buyers, and to provide such information to the board on request.
- All dairy dealers, on order issued by the board, to furnish their returns, reports and estimated or risk a Sh100,000 fine or three-month imprisonment or to both fine and jail term.
- All dairy dealers must have a valid certificate of registration. All dairy dealers, on order issued by the board, to furnish their returns, reports and estimated or risk a Sh100,000 fine or three-month imprisonment or to both fine and jail term.
- All dairy dealers must have a valid certificate of registration.
The regulations also provide that milk may only be sold in bulk through organised group of farmers, which may include but not limited to cooperatives or registered companies, authorized by the dairy board to sell raw milk provided that the produce is not sold to consumers.
Although farmers have been selling the product without the requirement of a license from KDB, the implementation of the regulations will mean that only those with the capability to process milk will be granted a license annually.
“A person shall not operate as a producer unless the person holds a license issued under these regulations,” the Licensing regulations state.
The Dairy Industry (Pricing of Dairy Produce) Regulations will determine the price of milk from the farmer.
The price will be based on quality as opposed to quantity. Interestingly, it is the buyer to determine the quality in fashion that is likely to be abused to exploit the farmer to the vagaries of poverty.
According to KDB, the regulations are meant to operationalise the Public Health Act, the Dairy Act, the National Dairy Development Plan Sessional paper no. 5 of 2013 and the Kenya National Dairy Master Plan volumes one and two situational analysis.
Those who flout this requirement shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.
“Authorisation shall be for purposes of bulking and delivery of raw milk to a cooling plant or processing establishment. A producer under these regulations may only buy raw milk in bulk from organized groups registered and holding valid authorization from the board,” the rules say.
Those handling raw milk for the purpose of bulking are required to ensure that within two hours of milking, the raw milk is cooled in a refrigeration facility.
They are also required to handle it in a manner as may be approved by the board, and in such temperatures that shall range between four degrees centigrade to seven degrees centigrade.
However, even as KDB appears to clamp on the gains smallholder farmers enjoy at the moment, it is not all gloom and doom.
All is not lost as the regulations must be approved by the National Assembly first upon consideration by the committee on Delegated Legislation in line with the Statutoral Instruments Act of 2013.
This law requires all government agencies to publish regulations and submit them to parliament for scrutiny before they are implemented.
Previously, the government agencies enjoyed the powers and monopoly of publishing and implementing the regulations without the scrutiny of parliament.
This opened room for abuse of powers and corruption. On Thursday, the Delegated Legislation Committee Chairperson Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu County Woman MP), said she had not seen the regulations.
“My committee has not seen these regulations. They must be brought before us for consideration first,” Ms Shollei said.
Also targeted include milk bar owners who will now be required to fork out Sh3,000 in license fees before they are allowed to trade.
Previously, they have been relying on a license from the public health department and operational licenses from their respective county governments.
Mini dairy and dispenser licenses will now be charged at Sh6,000, cottage industry Sh4,000, processor license handling below 100,000 litres per day Sh25,000 while those above 100,000 litres per day is Sh50,000 and distributors Sh25,000.
Before a license is issued, the dairy board is required to inspect and validate whether any person taking part in the storage, handling, distribution or sale of licensed produce is suffering from any infectious or contagious disease or is not clean as a person or their clothing.
Other than the Licensing and Pricing regulations, KDB has also published the others.
They include the carriage of milk and transportation regulations, dairy equipment, materials and additives regulations, import and export regulations, imposition of cess and levies regulations and inspectors regulations.
The others are licensing of dairy managers regulations, management regulations, produce traceability regulations, registration and licensing regulations, returns, reports and estimates regulations.