Processor raises alarm as milk deliveries drop

Meru Dairy Union CEO Kenneth Gitonga (third right) and leaders of various dairy societies from Meru, at a presser at the processor's location in Meru town. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Dairy farmers in Meru county have sounded an alarm over dwindling milk production.

The farmers under the Meru Dairy Union which boasts of over 40, 000 farmers, says the processor's daily production has significantly reduced in the wake of drought, high fuel costs and lack of inputs. The union has a capacity to process 600,000 litres daily but has seen deliveries drop from 320,000 litres daily to the current 270,000 litres.

The union's CEO Kenneth Gitonga speaking at a meeting with leaders from the various societies appealed for government assistance. Gitonga said the farmers had enough animals to supply the country with good amounts of milk but they need help to meet the demand.

"We do not have enough milk in the outlets. As leaders of union and farmers in Meru we are working hard to ensure we are producing enough," said Gitonga.

Gitonga noted that the high cost of production has been made worse by high costs of fuel. "We have been having challenges of rain, cost of production and fuel costs have gone up. We want the government to subsidise the feeds and other inputs so that we can produce enough milk foe the country," Gitonga said.

But with government subsidies Gitonga said they had capacity to reverse the trend and get enough milk. "We have enough animals but the cost of production is quite high and farmers are facing tough times," he said.

Josphat Murangiri, the chair of Ngo'ny Dairy Society, said farmers were looking for ways of restoring normal production despite the prohibitive circumstances.

Murangiri urged government to subsidise inputs in the dairy sector as it has done in coffee and tea sectors. 

As a coping mechanism, Japhet Kithinji, has been left with no alternative than to sell some of his herd since he cannot afford to manage them.

"Dairy farmers are facing hard times. My dairy cows have experienced a reduction of milk yields mainly because I cannot get affordable quality feeds. We are asking government to intervene as matter of urgency," he said.

Avsi Foundation has sensitised 7,000 people on nutritional value of milk and its derivatives in 10 primary schools, including pupils and teachers.

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