Kenyans might be forced to dig deeper into their pockets for dairy products in the coming months as milk production in the country continues to decline.
Livestock Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimtai has blamed the downward trend on low farm gate prices for milk, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in parts of the Rift Valley and the recent increase in prices of animal feeds, which has seen some farmers abandon dairy farming amidst concerns of the high cost of production
PS Kimtai, who was speaking on the sidelines of a validation workshop on veterinary bills in Nairobi on Monday, noted that low milk farm gate prices coupled with the high cost of imported animal feeds occasioned by COVID-19 related movement restrictions across the world has left dairy farmers on the edge, with some opting out of the business altogether due to the high costs of production
However, the PS said despite the prevailing situation, the government will not dictate the retail prices of the commodity, even with the advent of reduced milk production in the country.
“Negotiations on modalities to allow the importation of milk from the US are ongoing and as a government, we pledge to protect the local dairy industry from unfair competition from the imported products,” he said.
Further, to ensure local animal products meet international standards, Kimtai said stakeholders were meeting to ensure validation of the animal health, veterinary health and animal welfare bills that seek to increase safety standards and also improve efficiency in the livestock production value chain.
The PS sentiments come weeks after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya noted that Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted milk market following closure of schools and hotels, hence the reluctance from farmers in producing milk.
CS Munya had acknowledged that outbreak of foot and mouth disease in parts of the country had contributed to the drop in milk production, thus distressing processors who did not have sufficient supply to satisfy the market.
“The government might be forced to import in order to meet the deficit,” Munya had said, while urging farmers to invest in animal feeds to boost milk production and also to market the product formally.
Kenya Dairy Board managing director, Margaret Kibogy, has also been quoted alluding that the cold spell has greatly contributed to the low production, but noted that farm gate prices have gone up to a high of Sh40 per litre
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development at least 800,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya depend on dairy farming for their daily livelihoods.
However, despite the sector contributing 8 percent of Gross Domestic Product with annual milk production of 3.43 billion litres, the majority of the small-scale dairy farmers are constrained by low quantity and quality of feeds.
Joseph Anampiu, Commercial Unit Leader, East Africa, at Corteva AgriSciences says that Kenya has the highest per capita consumption of milk in Africa at 120 litres, compared with the African continent average of 50 litres, with consumption projected to nearly double to 22 litres by 2030, backed by a milk demand growth rate of 7 percent per annum.
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