Mediamax Network Limited

Why dairy sector can’t meet growing demand

Kenya milk production has grown rapidly over the last half a decade with the dairy sector becoming the fastest growing in the region in production, processing and marketing.

For example, more than 10 milk processors have been commissioned across the country in three years with those previously collection and bulking centres graduating to processing and value addition.

The four big dairy processing firms such as Brookside Dairy, New KCC, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock, and Githunguri Dairy Co-operative Society process above 100,000 litres of milk per day.

Other medium level firms processing less than this amount but with a significant intake include Kinangop, Meru Dairy Co-operative Society, and Kabianga Dairy.

According to Kenya Dairy Board (KDB), milk production stands at 5.2 billion litres annually out of which 3.9 billion litres are from cattle and the rest from camel and goats. Annually, consumers at the household level drink 1.4 billion litres while 2.5 billion litres are supplied in the informal market.

This is despite losses from the farm to market more than 500 million litres every year. Formal market handles about 600 million litres of milk out of which the Government plans to increase the same to one billion litres by 2022.

“Our intention is to increase quantity of milk going into the formal market from 30 per cent currently to 60 per cent,” said Margaret Kibogy KDB managing director. However, the industry worth Sh300 billion is grappling with the challenge of taming high cost of production, low utilisation capacity, seasonal fluctuation of production, substandard commercial feeds, low quality of milk, weak infrastructure and informal milk trade.  

Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur confirmed that livestock producers in the country are grappling with the challenge of sale of substandard feeds which to large extent are contributing to low production.

To ensure commercial feeds being supplied in the market are of high quality, he said, the Government is fast-tracking enactment of the Animal Feedstuff Bill 2016. The bill is ready and soon it will be presented to Parliament for discussion and enactment.

“The legislation will help in restoring sanity in the animal feed industry currently free for all in terms of who supplies and manufactures commercial feeds,” Tuimur said when he opened the 14th African Dairy Conference at the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

Currently, the feed industry is policed under the Fertiliser and Animal Food Stuff Act Cap 345 (1967), the Standards Act Cap 496 and the Animal Disease Act Cap 364. Value chain players have blamed production and sale of concentrates on lack of regulations which has contributed to emergence of informal manufacturers.

Adulterated feeds

They say the Government can only be able to track 30 per cent which are under the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (Akefema). Akefema manager Humphrey Mbugua said majority of millers who are not regulated are selling to farmers adulterated feeds thus affecting livestock productivity.

“In most instances farmers complain of feeds that have been mixed with sawdust, sand and other powder materials. Implicated manufacturers operate without the approval of the Government and other industry regulatory bodies,” said Mbugua.

He said sale of contaminated concentrates has been aggravated  by inadequate raw materials like cotton seed cakes, maize, sorghum, canola seed cakes and soya beans.

Local feed manufacturers largely rely on by-products from food agro-processing industries sourced from neighbouring countries or imported from India and other international markets.

The industry contributes four per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and the Government plans to increase the same to seven per cent in the medium term.

A recently published study titled “The Dairy Industry in Kenya: Present and Future Development of The Kenyan Dairy Farming Industry” says that 84 per cent of the milk produced in the country is sold in raw form to consumers and traders who pay cash to the farmers.  

The report was launched  at the 14th African Dairy Conference and Exhibition. The event was organised by the Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association .