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Former teacher dreams big with 800 dairy cows

By Kamau Maichuhie
The director of Elite Diaries George Karungo Ngugi speaking to journalists at his Ruiru farm. (Kamau Maichuhe, Standard).

Mr George Karungo shocked his family and friends when he resigned from his teaching job 10 years ago.

His family and friends could not understand how Ngugi, a budding literature teacher, could abruptly end his teaching career when he was at his peak.

However, what they did not know is that Ngugi had a burning passion to become a dairy farmer.

He developed the passion in his childhood, watching his father who was an astute dairy farmer back in the village.

“I felt I needed to do something more challenging and decided to resign,” said Ngugi.

However, there was a challenge. He did not have the capital to venture into dairy farming. This compelled him to seek another formal job for a couple of years to raise capital.

Four years ago after saving up enough to kick off his dream, he bought a farm in Ruiru. He had an initial herd of 40 cows.

Despite challenges that came his way in the first year, he soldiered on and now his farm plays host to more than 800 cows producing 1,200 litres of milk a day.

Ngugi says 230 are heifers. His golden cow produces up to 55 liters of milk per day.

He says his limit is beyond the sky. He is focused on raising his production capacity from the current 1,200 litres to 10,000 litres per day in the next two years.

Among his employees are graduates many of whom pursued agriculture-related courses.

“I supply milk to supermarkets while the rest is sold in my milk ATMs in Embakasi, Nairobi,” he said.

To ensure his cows produced maximum milk, Ngugi feeds them with silage sourced from the Rift Valley.

He has friesian, asher, jersey and flex breeds. He breeds at least 28 calves a month.

Apart from dairy farming, he is also engaged in goat farming. He has several breeds including Saanen, Toggenburg, Alpine and Dorper among others. 

He recently launched the Elite diaries that will among others specialise in production of yoghurt.

Despite the immense growth, it has not been a bed of roses. “Operation costs are too high, for instance my power bill goes up to Sh300,000 per month. The cost of animal feeds and farming inputs also give me sleepless nights,” he says.

“We would like the government to look in to the cost of power which is way too high for the manufacturers here compared to neighbouring countries. The government should also look in to the cost of farm inputs which is relayively high,” urged Ngugi.

To cushion himself against the high cost of power, he is putting up a biogas plant.

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