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Farmers import new cow breed from South Africa

NEWS
By Fred Makana | November 25th 2014

The growing demand for milk in the country has seen dairy farmers in Uasin Gishu County enter the South African market in search of high quality heifers.

Eldoret Dairy Farmers Association Chairman Nicholas Kositany said the increased demand for milk is supported by a rise in population as well as an emerging middle class that is expected to fuel demand for healthy, packaged dairy products.

Speaking at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he received the first batch of 24 pedigree dairy heifers from South Africa on behalf of farmers, Mr Kositany said several farmers from the county and East Africa region are set to benefit from the programme.

Already, Agricultural Finance Corporation has pledged to inject Sh100 million into the project to enable farmers import the heifers.

“This is part of an elaborate programme to import quality heifers to boost milk production,” Kositany said. He said it will cost Sh260,000 to import one heifer from South Africa to Eldoret.

Kositany said the remaining 125 will be in the second batch, which will bring the total cost to more than Sh62 million. He said they prefer to import readily available cows as it takes five years to get pedigree cows through breeding, but have opted to experiment with the heifers first.

Some 46 more heifers are expected in March, with a target of 300 by end of next year. Kositany said on average, a pure Freshian cow produces about 8,500 litres of milk per year and rarely are the breeds affected by climatic changes. He said the association had identified a farm where they will hold the heifers in quarantine so as to monitor their progress, adding that the group has 50 members producing 30,000 litres of milk per day.

Kositany said the country is grappling with a shortage of pure heifers due to cross-breeding and over-reliance on indigenous breeds, which has led to a decrease in milk supply.

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