Milk coolers set to turn around dairy farmers’ fortunes

Friday, February 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Dairy farmers across the country are set to benefit from cooling machines meant to enhance sale of quality milk. Photo/PD/FILE

Mwangi Mumero

Dairy farmers in the country are set to benefit from cooler systems being rolled out by various organisations to help preserve and enhance sale of quality milk.

Players in the dairy sector say absence of adequate machinery has led to increase of milk hawking with the informal traders sometimes adulterating their milk with substances not suitable for human consumption.

However, this is about to change as new milk handling technologies are launched across the country to boost preservation and bulking of milk thus boosting farmers’ profits.

For instance, with a monthly milk delivery of 85,000 to 90,000 litres, the 1,660-member Kahuro Livestock Breeders Co-operative Society (KLBCS) in Murang’a County has expanded its operations following the recent installation of a 5,000 litre capacity cooler by the county government.

“Most of our farmers are smallholder farmers and it became necessary to pool the milk and negotiate with New KCC on pricing.

At the moment, New KCC pays Sh34.80 per litre of milk delivered, with the society paying Sh30 per litre to farmers,” said Lucy Mwangi, the society’s manager during an interview at their offices in Kahuro Township.

The difference Sh4.80, she explained, is used to cater for transport and office expenses.

Kahuro is among numerous organisations  in the country that have benefited from regional governments and donor initiatives to reduce milk wastage, improve value addition and raise earnings for farmers from milk sale. 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the organisations funding the construction of milk coolers in Bomet and Nandi counties.

Other firms have also been investing heavily in the milk sub-sector across the country. 

Solar powered

Recently, Davis & Shirtliff, a local firm dealing with water and energy together with University of Hohenheimm, with support of German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) came up with a new solar powered milk cooling system to benefit rural-based dairy farmers.

The solar powered plant is an assembly of Steca DC refrigerator that is equipped with an intelligent adaptive controller. 

The controller converts the refrigerator to a smart ice-maker that operates depending on the availability of solar energy, according to Davis & Shirtliff Group CEO David Gatende.

Across the country, lack of cooling facilities by smallholder farmers has forced them to sell their milk through informal channels compromising hygiene and quality of the produce. Milk spoilage during handling and transportation is also prevalent.                             

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