News that five dairy cooperatives have ditched the Murang’a County Creameries Cooperative Union is worrying. The Smart Harvest has learnt that middlemen are luring small-scale dairy farmers in many of the societies in Murang’a, promising better returns for their produce, with the intent to kill the vibrant cooperatives.
In Murang’a County, so far five dairy cooperatives have broken ranks with the others after they diverted their supply points from their own Murang’a Cooperative Creameries (MCC) to privately-owned processing plants that are offering better prices.
In an effort to organise the milk sector and support the growth of cooperatives, in 2014, the county government procured exploitation from brokers.
Cooperative players engaged the county government and settled on the negotiated price of Sh35 per litre, which was adjusted upward to Sh40 per litre on September 1, after a series of meetings that started in April.
All has been well with cooperatives until recently when things started to fall apart. So when did the rains start to beat the once-solid cooperatives?
An official at Kangari dairy, Joseph Njuguna, blamed the management of the MCC for holding farmers’ money estimated at Sh49.9 million.
“Withholding the money belonging to hundreds of farmers is not fair as they resolved to explore a player who will offer better payment,” he said.
The dairies, including Kangari, Nginda, Kiarutara, Kahuro and Kigoro, are demanding the release of Sh148 million by the creameries for their July deliveries said Njuguna.
Murang’a County Cooperative Creameries Union Managing Director Simon Mukunu downplayed the issue and blamed private processors for misleading the cooperative members.
Mukunu noted milk was in high demand by processors because they have an insatiable market in major urban areas.
He said the explanation given by the societies why they ‘ran away from cooperatives’ is not honest as they have declined to have a meeting with the management of the union, which is the link between processors and farmers.
“The breakaway societies have not written to the union to notify them of the move. But there are farmers in the five entities who are supplying the milk through the nearby coolers,” said Mukunu.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria noted that the dairy sector has transformed the county and he would not allow those out to sabotage the gains made.
“There are people in the village going around brainwashing dairy farmers against cooperatives,” wa Iria said. He noted that Murang’a has set itself apart as a ‘dairy hub’ thanks to its well-organised cooperatives.