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Dairy farmers avoid Brookside, New KCC over low prices

SMART HARVEST
By Michael Ollinga | May 4th 2017

Uasin Gishu, Kenya: Dairy farmers in the North Rift region have resorted to hawking milk in search of better prices.

The farmers are increasingly shunning dairy processors who they accuse of offering low prices.

Dairy stakeholders who spoke to The Standard said milk processors were reluctant to increase prices despite rising costs of production.

Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation (KDFF) chairman Richard Tuwei claimed that more than two-thirds of farmers who were initially supplying milk to Brookside Dairy Ltd and New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) had switched to open markets in search of better prices.

"The highest amount the farmers are getting from milk supplied to the processors is Sh33 per litre after transport and other deductions at the cooling plants, which is below the recommended Sh40. This situation has prompted farmers to hawk milk directly to the market for between Sh60 and Sh80," said Mr Tuwei.

He said the cost of milk production had doubled due to the high cost of fodder and pasture.

The farmers want the Government to press milk processors to adjust the prices upwards.

"We have experienced low rainfall since last year occasioning a shortage of pasture and subsequently high prices of feeds. A bale of hay that was retailing at Sh180 currently costs between Sh400 and Sh450 but the prices offered by the processors have not doubled," said Paul Kibet, a small-scale dairy farmer in Uasin Gishu.

According to Kibet, it is more profitable to hawk milk at the doorsteps of consumers who offer value for the dairy farmers' efforts.

Private processors

David Maiyo, another farmer, confessed that he took only half of the milk from his herd to private processors and hawked the rest locally to make more money.

"The processors are offering as little as Sh32 per litre yet when you sell directly you get more than Sh60 for the same amount," he said.

Consumers said they preferred buying raw milk directly from farmers instead of processed milk from shopping outlets, which they said was more expensive.

"Half a litre of processed milk in supermarkets costs between Sh60 and Sh70 yet I can use the same amount to get a full litre from the farmers. I trust milk obtained directly from the farms," said Edwin Tanui, a resident of Outspan in Eldoret.

Simon Maleche, a resident of Kapsoya estate, said milk vendors in the area sold a litre of milk at Sh80 which, though inflated, was better than processed milk that retails at between Sh120 and Sh150 per litre.

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