Kenya -- A looming shortage of milk stares the country in the eye. The North Rift region, which produces 80 per cent of the country’s milk for sale, has registered a 40 per cent drop in supply.
According to the deputy national chairman of the Kenya Dairy Producers Association, Mr Peter Lelei, the country is faced with severe shortage of cotton seed, sunflower and soya cakes, which are important components of animal feed.
He said that a few people import the cakes as the ones produced in the country cannot meet the requirements of the sector.
Already some dairy farmers in the North Rift region are crossing to neighbouring Uganda to get cotton seed cake for their cows, according to Mr Lelei.
The shortage of animal feed has negatively affected their prices.
The price of a 12kg bale of hay has increased from Sh180 to between Sh250 and Sh300 in selected agrovets in Kitale and Eldoret.
Increase in price has been necessitated by the shortage of the fodder as most farmers who grow hay are withholding their stock to spare some for the future.
“I don’t know when it will rain given that La-Nina was anticipated, that is why I am sparing my hay for the sunny days,” said Mr Eliud Wechuli, a dairy farmer in Trans Nzoia County.
Speaking to the Nation on phone, chairman of the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (New KCC) Matu Wamae confirmed that there is a drop in milk production in most parts of the North Rift.
“I agree there is a reduction in milk in the North Rift. But this has been compensated by increase in supply in most parts of the Central Province,” he said.
Mr Lelei, on the other hand, argued that Central Province only produced 20 per cent of the total milk production against Rift Valley’s 80 per cent.
In October last year, the main processors in the country increased the price of milk from Sh19 to Sh 25 per litre at New KCC, and Sh27 at the Brookside plant.
However, farmers in the North Rift feel they are unlikely to benefit from the adjustments of milk prices, owing to the current low production.
“Farmers have nothing to enjoy from the increased prices given that they don’t have enough milk to supply to the processing plants,” Mr Lelei said.
He urged the government to revitalise the Kenya Farmers Association, arguing that it sold farm inputs to farmers at a subsidised price, hence giving them room to plough back good profits.
Mr Lelei said that when the prices of milk and milk products dropped during last year’s glut, the factors of production remained high, hence farmers ended up spending more in producing milk than what they earned as profit.
Last year, the country was faced with milk glut, which saw litres of milk go to waste as the processors could not accommodate the surplus.