The buzz word in the farming Industry for the past 5 years has been “agribusiness”. This, to my understanding is where farmers start treating farming as a business and not a hobby. Never mind that no-one is out there teaching farmers business skills. I would be interesting to attend a farmers-only business crash course. Maybe then I and many other like myself could cut down on some of the wrong farming choices I make and finally make some good money from it.
Anyway back to today’s subject. Dairy farming, unlike many other farming sub-sectors in kenya has a well-structured, well defined and developed model unlike the maize farming sector which always has these recurring problems(mostly around harvest time) of price drops, government imports, cereals closures, millers and brokers exploitations just to name a few. The last real issue that came from that sector was the milk glut of 2010 which in my opinion the country has learnt from and are better prepared should it reoccur. Especially after the news that Brookside and Africa’s richest man(Dangote) are both investing in multi-million dollar milk powder plants and I can’t see any more farmer’s milk going to waste.
This is a sector that gives me real hope in farming and makes me look forward to REAL development in the sector and all its support sectors. I am waiting to see farmers increasing their herds into the thousands, more graduates from our collages with degrees in vetinary sciences getting serious well paying jobs in those farms and mushrooming of the fodder growing business for those not into keeping animals.
I landed on this conclusion after closely analyzing recent events in the dairy industry. If you are a keen follower of news, you will have noticed that more and more county governments are promoting dairy farming. In fact, some counties are going as far as purchasing heifers on behalf of their farmers, these governors must be seeing the same thing I am. One governor (Elgeyo Marakwet) developed a very interesting method of fighting alcoholism among the youth and illicit brew manufacturing by offering the brewers free cows and in turn they abandon their trade. Whether the cows will drive the youth to dairy farming as much as illicit brew did to their brewing dens we will have to wait and see.
Towards the end of last year, a group of farmers from Eldoret made it to the news for having traveled the furthest to source and ship home a cow. In fact they made it back with not one but 24 pedigree heifers from South Africa which is arguably the best milk producer in the African continent and are aiming to increase the number to a whopping 250 heifers. The Eldoret Dairy Farmers association led by Mr Nicholas Kositany showed just how serious Kenyan farmers are taking dairy farming and I am glad to inform you that I will be closely following the progression of the 24 beauties to lactation and on that note, please subscribe to our blog below.
Every time a farmer is asked what major challenges he/she faces, more often that not, Market crops up as one of the biggest hindrances to farming success. This is however not the case with dairy farming as demand is always bigger than supply and this is just by taking a look at the number of households that consume milk and milk products on a daily basis. The possibilities of adding value to the milk in form of cheese, butter and yoghurt helps the marketing issue by opening up other selling opportunities.
The technologies now available in the country is a major force in driving the dairy industry forward. A good example is embryo transfer in dairy cows which has recently started being practiced in the country. What this technology has done is reduce the number of generations needed to breed a pedigree cow from 4 generations to literally one pregnancy. I have a feeling the 24 South African heifers will at some point be involved in this process. I personally foresee Kenya having a robust dairy industry that will support and enrich farmers and anyone in the dairy ecosystem.
With all these in mind, the smart move for any farmer or businessman interested in Dairy farming would be to align their operations and plug into the dairy ecosystem. Either as a farmer, milk processor, nutritionist or even animal feed producer. Mark my words, this industry is about to explode.