Modern dairy farming is fast taking shape in Cherang’any Sub County in Trans Nzoia following a move by farmers to end over-reliance on Maize farming which has been hit with dwindling returns occasioned by an unreliable market.
The dairy alternative started gaining momentum in 2013 when then area member of parliament Wesley Korir initiated a noble idea that saw dairy farmers in the region come together through cooperative movements to form the Dairy Farmers of Cherang’any (DFC)Ltd.
“This initiative was driven by the fact that Dairy farming could cushion Maize farmers from the exploitation that had been brought about by cartels who dictate market prices,” said Mr. Korir.
Most farmers embraced dairy farming which was an old venture in the region initiated during colonial times. Dairy farming flourishes in the region owing to favourable climatic condition for feeds and Dairy cows.
Through his Kenyan Kids foundation, Mr. Korir donated milk cooling plants to the Mwaita and Taito dairy cooperative societies in addition to other necessary equipment to kick off the project.
“Farmers deliver their milk daily to the two cooling plants on daily basis. They are in turn paid periodically basing on the amount of milk they have supplied,” said the manager of DFC, Ezra Tanui.
The Dairy firm has been selling the collected milk to a local Milk processing firm but has begun venturing in to value addition through processing to maximise their returns.
The first processed product which has hit the shelves of local shops and supermarket chains is the “Dairy farmers of Cherang’any Yogurt” which is packaged in two varieties of vanilla and strawberry.
“The Yoghurt products have already hit the market in the North Rift and Western region. Plans are also underway to start the packaging of long life milk that will soon hit the market,” said Mr. John Murei, the head of Yogurt section.
The Dairy farmers who supply their milk to the Dairy firm also have an option of enrolling as members of the Dairy Farmers of Cherang’any co-operative society which enables them access loans based on their Milk supply.
“The Sacco enables many of them finance their economic development goals. The planned introduction of a contract farming initiative will also see farmers earn their dues monthly like civil servants with payslips,” said Mr. Tanui.
Dairy farmers who supply milk to the firm also have an advantage of accessing veterinary products in a trade-off system where they settle accrued debts with an equivalent amount of Milk.
“I have been able to meet my financial obligations by accessing affordable loans offered by the Sacco. The loans are secured by Milk supply,” said Mr. Ikuria James, a farmer at Mwaita.
The firm also has an Artificial Insemination (AI) section geared towards improving the breeds of farmers for better milk returns and even improvements for beef breeds.
Apart from economic transformation, the firm has also offered employment opportunities to a section of locals working at the dairy, uniform and the co-operative sections.