A consortium of five companies in Kenya namely Corteva Agriscience, Land O’Lakes Venture37, Bidco Land O’Lakes, Forage Genetics International (FGI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI Kenya) are seeking to undertake a Ksh 37.5 million (US$ 350,000) dairy program to boost milk production and supply of nutritional dairy products.
The program targeting 5,000 women small holder dairy farmers will be undertaken in Kiambu, Nakuru, Kericho, Uasin Gishu, Nyeri and Meru.
This group of private sector, non-profit, and research organizations will under taken the program in a span of two years, indicated Corteva in a press-release.
The initiative is aimed at strengthening dairy production through sustainable farming practices in order to ease the annual 2.2-billion-litre shortage of dairy products in the country.
The partnership is designed to assist the farmers acquire new methods of producing high nutrient-rich forage, forage harvesting and conservation, providing reliable feed for dairy cattle that will lead to improved milk production.
The farmers will also be trained on mechanization aimed at reduction of overall production costs, improving their earning.
Under the partnership Corteva will provide education and agronomic training, Forage Genetics International (FGI) will offer expert knowledge in forage management, ILRI will offer locally-based, world capabilities and livestock management practices, Land O’Lakes will offer advanced dairy technologies, while Bidco Land O’Lakes will offer expert advice on dairy animals feeding.
“As a leader in agricultural innovation and a collaborator with farmers, we are committed to provide tools and training to help increase yield stability, optimize inputs, and improve climate resilience,” said Joseph Anampiu, Commercial Unit Leader, East Africa, at Corteva Agriscience.
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at least 800,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya depend on dairy farming for their livelihood.
However, despite the sector contributing 8% of Gross Domestic Product with annual milk production of 3.43 billion litres, many farmers have not adopted to technology so as to increase their milk yield.
A majority of the small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya are constrained by low quantity and quality of feeds, lack of reliable statistical information on milk market outlets, poor rural infrastructure, lack of collateral for loans, low technical skills on husbandry practices, and reduced access to veterinary and artificial insemination (AI) services.
The country has so far registered a 36% decline in milk production this year attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted the market, foot and mouth disease being experienced in some counties and the cold weather season.
In January, milk production was at 63 million litres per month, but it has since dropped to 42 million litres per month according to the marketed volumes in formal markets.
With a national monthly demand of 54 million litres, the country is experiencing a deficit of 12 million litres.
The per capita consumption in Kenya stands at 110 litres per annum. Although this is one of the biggest in sub – Sahara Africa with an average of 50 litres per annum, it is still below the FAO recommended per capita of 220 liters per annum which is projected to reach there in 2030.