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Meru Dairy to establish a dairy cattle ranch dubbed ‘Dairy Boarding’ and a new feed manufacturing plant

President William Ruto accompanied by Meru Dairy CEO Kenneth Gitonga during a tour of the facility | PHOTO-Courtesy

By Mutethia Mukembu

The Meru Dairy Union CEO Kenneth Gitonga says plans are in advance to establish a Dairy cattle ranch and dairy feeds manufacturing factory to increase milk production.

Gitonga said deeper research has shown that many farmers can’t manage and feed their Dairy cows properly all around the year due to a lack of professionalism.

Most Dairy farmers do not have knowledge of mixing different types of fodder to attain the nutrition level required by the animal.

Speaking to the media recently, he said the new idea is aimed at improving milk productivity per cow per day because continuing with the same routine of feeding and breeding, there will be no changes in production and farmers will never have enough money to satisfy their needs.

“The idea of ‘Boarding’ is a communal rearing of Dairy animals where several farmers bring their cows to be taken care of and reared by expert animal managers. I know these cows will be producing 30-40 litters per day instead of the usual three litters per cow,” he said.

Gitonga said the ranched cows will produce milk of quality and international standards making farmers earn more.

“There is a great need to come up with innovations in every sector. Many things have changed including clothing. Many trials done on how to improve and increase milk production per cow, per day have failed and this is the reason I have traveled to several Countries including Israel for benchmark,” Gitonga said.

Gitonga, who has been the Meru Dairy Cooperative Union Manager since 2011 said his agenda, has been to bring more money to farmer’s pockets.

Praising farmers banking on the Union he heads, Gitonga said Sh9.3 billion in milk was sold in a period of one year alone.

Meru Dairy Union is a Cooperative that collects raw milk from farmers, processes it, and sells it on their behalf under their common Brand Mt Kenya Milk. The Union aims to collect milk of more than 400, 000 litres per day to 1 million.

Gitonga noted that Kenya is the number one producer of milk within East Africa and number two in the whole of Africa.

He said in the same endeavor, there will be milk coolers such that within ten minutes of milking Boarding cows, the milk is immediately stored in coolers.

“Milk will be categorized depending on the breed of the cow, whether Jersey or Friesian. The time used to mix milk collected from different farmers affects in terms of quality and the required standards in the World,” he said.

He added that they plan to register Saccos or cooperatives where a society will look after your cow and at the end of the month, money comes into your bank accounts depending on the milk production of your cow.

“These cows will have insurance, so a farmer won’t count losses when it dies. All the animals will have owner’s tag so that those milking or feeding it will keep accurate records,” he said.

Gitonga thanked President William Ruto for authorizing the Agriculture minister to chip in and see that the project materializes.

Gitonga added that the President took time to learn about their Factory and also the challenges farmers face especially decline in prices, access to capital, excess production leading to pouring milk or seasonality demand.

He said the President agreed to set aside funds as it is for Miraa and coffee, as he ordered  Linturi to handle the issues at hand.

“The President told Linturi to provide sexed semen at subsidized prices of Sh1500 instead of Sh9000,” he said.

On animal feeds, he said many farmers have been using low-quality animal feeds that lower milk production per cow. He said the head of State declared Sh100 million be channeled to the Union for their dream of establishing an animal feed manufacturing industry.

“We have already secured enough Land in Mitunguu, South Imenti, and the process is ongoing.  If we raise the production there is great demand for export of the product to the international market. One of the major challenges in milk production is the production costs. In Europe, the US, and India their governments support farmers with necessary incentives and by lowering production costs.

“In such Countries, when a farmer is paid Sh30 per liter, he makes great profits while a Kenyan farmer paid Sh50 per liter is at a loss,” Gitonga said.

In Meru, he said the average milk production per cow is five liters and below which is low making the farmer count losses.

KCC was the first to start collecting milk in 1925 and the white man came up with an idea for society’s coming together and delivering their milk to KCC.

There are more than five million dairy cattle in Kenya producing an estimated four billion litres of milk every year. Kenya has about 8 billion liters in demand for milk in sub-Saharan Africa.

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