New KCC director calls for joint efforts to tame high feed prices

New KCC Managing Director Nixon Sigey. [File, The Standard]

Encouraging public-private partnership in the production of livestock feeds will ease the burden on dairy farmers, New Kenya Cooperative Creameries Managing Director Nixon Sigey has said.

Mr Sigey noted that dairy producers heavily rely on concentrates whose raw products are imported from Uganda and Tanzania, making feeds too expensive.

Mr Sigey said there is a need to engage dairy players in the private and public sectors with a view of lowering the cost of feeds, to support the expansion of the sector.

“We urge the government to encourage the cultivation of available land in agricultural institutions, including Agricultural Development Corporation, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation by private players to produce livestock feeds,” he said.

The MD said private players should be allowed to cultivate public land to produce fodder in order to boost access to affordable feeds.

Mr Sigey also advised farmers to produce protein-rich fodder, including lucerne, sunflower, sorghum and soybeans, during the rainy season for use during the dry spell.

This comes as dairy cooperative societies record a drastic drop in milk supplies as long dry spells and the high cost of feeds hurt productivity.

Although dairy farmers have upgraded their breeds, the cost of feeds has frustrated farmers in North Rift with drought aggravating the situation.

Officials who spoke to The Standard said following the closure of schools, most farmers had diverted milk to domestic use.

“We are currently receiving very low volumes of milk that have dropped to an average of 2,000 kilogrammes daily compared to 10,000 kilogrammes at peak season. This exposes us to losses,” said Mr Stanley Ng’ombe, a director at Lelchego Sacco in Nandi County.

In Elgeyo Marakwet County, deliveries to Chepkorio Dairy Limited have dropped from an average of between 10,000 and 15,000 kilogrammes daily to an average of 5,000 kilogrammes. Mr Jeremiah Kiptum, a manager at Chepkorio Dairy Limited, said the cost of livestock feed is beyond the reach of dairy farmers.

Messrs Ng’ombe and Kiptum noted that dairy cooperative societies were incurring losses due to reduced milk volumes and stagnated producer prices. “While the cost of formulated animal feeds is beyond the reach of a majority of milk producers, the high cost of fertiliser has also denied them chances of planting fodder for silage,” said Mr Ng’ombe.

He said a 70kg bag of high yield dairy meal currently retails at Sh2,700 and can only be used for about six days per cow, hence farmers cannot afford it.

The director said the shortage of good feeds is to blame for the drop in production, hence low supplies to cooperative societies.

“Low milk volumes are exposing Saccos to financial challenges. Paying for transport, electricity bills for cooling, and staff maintenance is a challenge,” said Mr Ng’ombe, who is also chairman of Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation.

Mr Kiptum said cooperatives have sent some employees home to ease their financial burden.