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Dairy farmers want milk imports halted to save sector

By Moses Omusolo

 

Dairy farmers are fearing for their livelihoods after the government took to sourcing milk from outside the country.

According to industry reports, the dairy sector is facing an oversupply of milk owing to importation from other East African Community (EAC) states.

Kenya Dairy Board had indicated that the country was expected to import at least 200 million litres of milk this year.

The move is now being faulted for its impact on local farmers who fear losing their livelihoods on account of poor returns.  

A mix of dairy and livestock associations yesterday held a meeting in Nairobi, where they blamed the government for plunging the sector into disarray and threatening to drive them into poverty.

The stakeholders included Brilliant Dairy Farmers Association, Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation, Dairy Traders Association, Eldoret Dairy Farmers Association and several breeder associations.

They called out the State for leaving farmers at the mercy of unscrupulous dealers who they say could bring the critical industry to its deathbed.

Caused glut

"The liberalisation of the dairy market and the EAC trade protocol has come with both positive and negative effects in the dairy industry,” said Elisha Bwatuti, the Brilliant Dairy Farmers Association Executive Secretary. 

"It has allowed increased milk imports (and) not on need basis. This has caused a glut that in turn has brought down farm gate prices below Sh20, which is unsustainable.”

Recent data shows that farmers across the country were getting between Sh27 and Sh31 per litre from major processors. Two years ago, the prices were between Sh35 and Sh43 per litre.

Samuel Mwita, the Dairy Traders Association Secretary-General said the government had let down the sector on many fronts since it was not keen on providing players with a conducive environment.

 

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