Rift Valley dairy farmers protest drop in milk prices

A Dairy Farm. [Image: Courtesy]
Dairy farmers in the Rift Valley region have protested the drastic drop of raw milk prices saying it is not equal to the cost of production.

Most processors are currently buying the raw milk from Sh23 to Sh27 per liter a move that farmers insist it’s a deliberate plan to lock them down from enjoying the benefits of their hard work.

Two months ago, the prices ranged from Sh35 per liter before it dropped to the current proces despite calls by farmers for a quick review.

The dejected farmers insisted that the move to liberalize East African markets has made it impossible for them to get value for their money.

“It is disheartening that nobody wants to talk about how to cushion dairy farmers from exploitation. At the moment the market prices have dipped while products such as drugs, salt, feeds have always soared, why is the state turning a blind eye on the once lucrative sector?” posed John Kangogo, a dairy farmer from Uasin Gishu county.

Kangogo said the ongoing dry spell has forced them to purchase feeds for their dairy animals at exorbitant prices and wondered why the regulators have failed to ensure that raw milk retails at affordable prices in the market.

“Most farmers in the region are struggling with feeds and have gone to greater lengths to ensure that they provide additives to their animals so that they can beat the scorching sun, but the state is adamant about offering solutions to the sector that has a high population,” he added.

Sylvester Chemuor, a dairy farmer in Nandi County, said he used to supply 100 litres of milk to New Kenya Cooperative Creameries, but the current situation has seen him struggle to feeds his cows to achieve maximum production.

"Maize farming is on its death bed in the region that used to be the bread basket. Farmers had initially decided to run to the dairy sector but frustrations coupled by the failure by the ministry to regulate the sector has made life difficult," he added.

David Bett, a farmer from Bomet County, said continuous importation of milk from neighbouring countries had hurt the dairy sector.

Bett said counties who should be the best frontiers in championing for the dairy farmers by becoming own regulators.

"We need to come together as a strong advocacy group be ensuring that counties that produce milk also strive to regulate. The milk will be processed within counties and source for market for better prices," he said.

Bett noted that there is a need for the establishment of a policy that will address issues affecting dairy farmers.

Their sentiments come in wake of plans by an umbrella that advocates for Dairy farmers to boycott delivery of raw milk to processors.

Speaking yesterday on phone, Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation (KDFF) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gideon Birgen said they will boycott delivery of their yields as a protest to the continued reduction of milk prices.

"We have a big problem in the dairy sector. We are toiling hard to ensure that we produce quality milk, but we are faced with a myriad of challenges that is brought by processors," said Birgen.

He said the market is flooded by powdered milk from neighboring countries making it difficult for farmers to sell their raw milk and make profit.

"By the end of the week we are going to cripple the dairy sector down. Our concerns have to be heard because the state has constantly neglected us," he added.

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