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Gachagua: Gov’t will clear arrears owed to dairy farmers

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has assured farmers the Government will clear arrears owed to dairy farmers who supply milk to the New KCC.

The DP also said the administration is exploring international milk markets for exportation of at least one billion litres of milk annually.

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Speaking on Friday in Manyatta, Embu, during the ‘Embu County Livestock, Dairy and Fisheries Exhibition’ organised by the Kenya Dairy Board  at KALRO Grounds, Embu town, Gachagua said the New KCC will clear the pending payments by next week.

“I will talk to the Cabinet Secretary Cooperatives & MSMEs and the New KCC to clear the arrears by next week because we have an obligation to support the farmers,” said the DP.

He explained  that the milk exportation plan and modernisation of the New KCC are part of the government’s implementation of the Bottom-Up economic model, which focuses on bolstering the small-scale entrepreneurs and the rural economy.

He said that the government has deployed various strategies to double milk production from the current 5.2 billion litres annually to 10 billion litres by year 2027.

According to data from the Kenya Dairy Board, Kenyan farmers are currently producing 5.2 billion litres annually (cow 3.9 billion litres, camel milk 920 million, goat milk 273 million and sheep milk 107 million). A total of 2.2 billion litres are sold informally.

The exportation of the milk, he said, is also part of the government’s strategy of increasing the foreign exchange earnings from dairy farming in exporting up to 1 billion litres per annum.

“We want to expand our export portfolio for the small-scale farmers to also taste the US Dollar like their tea and coffee counterparts,” he stated.

The Deputy President announced  that starting this month, March 2024, dairy farmers will be earning Sh50 per litre of milk supplied to the New KCC, as promised by President William Ruto.

“With an investment of over Sh5 billion for modernisation of the New KCC, Sh50 is just but the start as we look forward to offering our farmers more. We are also establishing structural support systems such as milk coolers to tame post-harvest losses, which stand at about 270 Million litres annually,” said Mr Gachagua.

The government’s decision to ban importation of leather products, the DP added, is on course to revive the local leather processing industry and job creation.

Mr Gachagua noted  that Kenya being one of the countries with the highest population of livestock in Africa, reviving the leather industry will reduce the country’s expenditure on importation by over Sh9 billion annually, while employing at least 80,000 people.

“Under our Plan, the manufacturing strand, therefore, relies on high performance of the Agriculture Sector under the various value chains. In investing in value addition, we are transitioning our country from an active imports-reliant to a vibrant export economy,” he said.

The  Deputy President was accompanied by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, the host-governor Cecily Mbarire, Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo, Senator Alexander Mundigi, Chairperson of National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock John Mutunga (MP for Tigania West), Embu Woman Representative Njoki Njeru ‘Double N’ and local MPs Gitonga Mukunji (Manyatta), Engineer Nebart Bernard Muriuki (Mbeere South) and Muchangi Karemba (Runyenjes).

MPs Julius Rutto (Kesses) and Amina Dika (Tana River Women Representative), Members of County Assembly led by Embu Speaker Josiah Thiriku and heads of various parastatals were also present.

In his remarks, the DP said the government is supporting Embu county government in its bid to support dairy farmers as he commended governor Cecily Mbarire over her performance and rolling out of value addition strategies on agricultural products.

He said Embu County dairy farmers will benefit from milk coolers as the government scales up the installations across the country. So far 365 coolers have been installed in key milk production areas.

“A small-scale dairy farmer in the relatively dry Mbeere region in Embu, who cannot afford a cooling system, will not worry about milk spoilage due to heat,” he said.

He added that the government has allocated over Ksh400 million to ensure availability of sexed semen for quality dairy breeds to farmers.

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