Quality of milk now to determine prices to farmers

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimutai (right) and Murang'a County Livestock and Veterinary Executive Albert Mwaniki follow proceedings at a quality and safety of milk workshop organised by the Kenya Dairy Board, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV Kenya) and the 3R Kenya in Nairobi. [Courtesy]
Dairy farmers could soon start getting paid based on the quality of milk delivered to processors as opposed to the current system where they are paid depending on the quantity.

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimutai said yesterday the new system was among the changes contained in new dairy sector regulations aimed at improving the safety of milk produced in the country. He said in Nairobi the regulations were expected to come into force by the end of February. The ministry, the PS said, also planned to regulate the quality of animal feed sold in the market.

Among the parameters that processors will use in the new system is fat content in the milk delivered by the farmers. The system is expected to deal with adulteration where unscrupulous farmers have been known to use water, sugar, fat and even chemicals to boost the amount of milk delivered to processors.

“If we introduce the quality-based system of paying farmers, then they are going to produce high quality milk. It is aimed at encouraging farmers to produce higher quality milk and also to enable them to take up dairy farming as a commercial enterprise,” said Mr Kimutai at a workshop on quality and safety of milk organised by the Kenya Dairy Board.

“The current milk payment system is based on quantity because of ease of calculating the price of milk. It, however, does not provide incentive. It also does not discourage malpractices such as adulteration.” The system is similar to the one used in the tea industry, where some leaves fetch a premium price and in some instances farmers with lower volumes tend to earn more than those churning out higher volumes.

Brookside, the biggest processor in the country, last year said it would start using this system to pay farmers.

The PS said the ministry also planned to start regulating the animal feed industry. This is in a bid to rein in rogue producers bringing substandard feeds to the market that have in the recent past been blamed for high levels of aflatoxin and other toxins in dairy and meat products.

The animal feed sub-sector is not regulated and manufacturers are only required to adhere to basic standards.

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Dairy farmersLivestock Principal Secretary Harry KimutaiBrookside