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Drought trims milk production by 35pc

Milk production in the country has dropped by more than 35 per cent owing to the prolonged drought being experienced in most parts of the country. Livestock principal secretary Andrew Tuimur said the drought has negatively impacted on major producing zones.

He said the effects of bad weather has led to an annual milk production of 5.2 billion litres, a drop of 20 per cent, in areas that use supplementary feeds such as fodder, hay and silage. “However, in areas that do open grazing in parts of North Rift, decrease is almost 50 per cent,” he said Tuimur identified counties most hit by the drought as Baringo, Isiolo, Marsabit, Mandela, Garissa, Kajiado and Wajir.

He, however, said the national government is monitoring the situation closely to ensure that the prices of milk do not go up to Sh70. Dairy processors, however, assured that the country has enough stocks to last the country for the next two months. Currently, 500 ml packet of milk sells at between Sh45 and Sh55.

“There should be no cause for alarm as the prices will remain the same,” said Nixon Sigey managing director of New KCC. Tuimur also confirmed that milk processors still have stocks of long life milk while there is a current stock of about 5,000 tonnes of powder milk.

“Milk processors like New KCC and Brookside each have about 3,000 tonnes and 2,000 tonnes of powder milk respectively and this can last the country for two months,” he said. “We are monitoring the situation before we finally open the window for duty-free imports of powdered milk in order to tame high consumer prices,” Tuimur said during the livestock insurance payout of Sh175 million for the 2017 short rains at a Nairobi hotel.

Milk imports attract a 60 per cent duty plus an additional seven per cent Kenya Dairy Board levy, making importation a costly affair. In May last year, the government waived duty on importation of 9,000 tonnes of powder milk and long life milk, although main dairy processors were only able to import 4,000 tonnes.

Tuimur said the Sh175 million insurance payout would compensate 9,700 livestock farmers in seven counties who were severely affected by drought during the short rains season of October to December 2017.

He said the payment by Takaful Insurance –under the Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme – will help purchase animal feeds, provide water and procure animal health care services or even move animals to areas with better forage to cushion them against severe starvation and possible deaths.

Tuimur said that the national government expects to bring the remaining 14 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties under the livestock insurance scheme by the end of this year at a total premium cost of Sh500 million.

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