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Dairy quickest, most impactful sector to address Kenya’s economic woes

According to President William Ruto’s top economic adviser, David Ndii, the dairy sector offers the quickest and most impactful opportunity to improve the country’s cost of living, create jobs, enhance foreign exchange, offer inclusive growth, and address youth unemployment in Kenya.

“Kenya is the biggest milk producer in Africa with about five million total cows. However, the average productivity is only three liters per cow. With interventions in three facets of dairy farming; Nutrition, Animal husbandry, and Artificial Insemination (AI); Kenya could double its milk production,” explained Ndii during the milk processors stakeholders meeting.

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An improvement in these key aspects of dairy keeping could see Kenya move from producing five billion liters to liters annually. “If we exported just 2.5 billion liters of this at the current global price of Sh60 (40 US cents) per kilogram for powdered milk this would translate to over one billion dollars. This is similar to the amount of money the country earns from age-old export industries such as tea and flowers. We can get the dairy industry there in three to five years. There is no other sector with such a steep runway for takeoff,” added Ndii. 

The meeting which was held at State House, Nakuru, brought together milk processors, captains of the milk industry, and farmers to seek out opportunities for the transformation of the dairy sector to enhance competitiveness and expand value-added opportunities

Per a statement by President William Ruto, the potential of the dairy industry remains largely untapped due to a myriad of constraints including poor value chain coordination. Adoption of game-changing approaches he said will help rebuild the enterprise, spur the production of quality milk, and multiply the exports of processed dairy products.

Ndii further elaborated that through Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC)– the oldest and largest dairy processor in East and Central Africa– Kenya has a strong legacy brand name that could give it access to the export market.

“In the late 1970s, KCC was preparing a bid to buy Nestle’s milk export business because it was a bigger brand name in the field. This was before the parastatal started experiencing turbulence that saw the deal scuppered. 

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We however still have the farmers, capability, infrastructure, and brand name to be back at that table if we put our house back in order.”

Kenya’s dairy industry is estimated at Sh266.7 billion with the country currently producing 5.2 billion liters, 45 per cent of which is consumed locally. This makes Kenyans the largest per capita consumer of milk in Africa. 55 per cent of this milk is traded informally through milk traders, mini dairies, and dispensers with only 30 per cent being handled by large-scale processors.

Image Courtesy: New Kenya Cooperative Creameries

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