Milk prices up as drought leads to biting shortage

Empty milk shelves at a Kiambu supermarket. Kiambu County has been hit by an acute shortage. [George Njunge, Standard]

An acute milk shortage has hit Kiambu County following prolonged drought.

A spot check by The Standard revealed that processing plants are not able to supply milk to supermarkets and retail shops.

Milk hawkers and dealers have closed shops while some operate on minimal stock that get bought off early in the morning.

The shortage has now seen the price of packaged milk shoot up.

A half a litre packet that used to cost between Sh48 and Sh50 now sells at Sh67.

Farmers said they cannot supply enough milk to processing plants following the prolonged drought. 

James Karanja, a farmer, said he has three cows that used to produce between seven and a 10 litres of milk each morning.

He said the cows produced a similar quantity in the afternoon, but now the cows only manage half the quantity.

“I used to buy one 70-kilogramme sack of feed at Sh1500 and now it is retailing at Sh2200," said Karanja. "This price is high and  I have been forced to reduce the recommended amount that I give each cow."

Consequently, Karanja said his production has dropped significantly.

Karanja added that his farm that supplies enough forage is no longer able after the drought.

He said previously, he could even makes silage with the surplus nappier grass from his farm.

“I even dug a big hole in my farm for forage for later use when I have surplus but now I have exhausted the forage and the silage," Karanja said. "We will have some bad time in milk production before the rains return.”

Another farmer, Grace Nyambura from Lari said that there is a significant drop in milk production.

“We used to sell milk at Kimende and Lari shopping centres with a litre going for as low as Sh20. Now we cannot supply all shops in the area,” Nyambura said.

The farmers have also blamed high prices of dairy feed that have forced them to reduce the amount they give the cows.