Co-operatives drive growth of dairy sector

The once insignificant dairy co-operative movement, which was seen as a refuge for struggling smallholder farmers, has turned out to be the vehicle that has driven growth of the sub-sector.
According to estimates, at least five per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was generated from milk.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s National Dairy Development Policy says co-operatives form a key cog that turns the wheels of the dairy industry in Kenya.
Its strategy paper notes that through bulking, co-operatives have been able to reduce the cost of milk marketing and enabled farmers to realise higher returns through provision of a reliable and remunerative outlet for milk.
Brookside Dairy, which procures nearly 1.5 million litres of raw milk from farmers every day, largely owes its success to these producers. It has partnered with over 300 dairy groups where it sources its raw material.
“As a result of our partnership with dairy groups, many of them have grown to become industry giants who have extended their business beyond the primary role of marketing milk for small-holder farmers and ventured into provision of financial services,” says Mr John Gethi, Brookside Dairy’s director of milk procurement.
The New Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) managing director Nixon Sigey said they had developed robust extension services covering the firm’s eight factories in Kenya.
“Feeding is the key in increased milk production. This is one challenge New KCC is addressing by training farmers  on how to conserve fodder for use during the dry spell,” Mr Sigey said.

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