Nakuru County government has received Ksh 54 million grant from the World Bank part of which will be channeled in unlocking the Ksh 25 billion potential in dairy sub sector within the devolved unit by addressing a number of challenges that have affected quality and quantity of milk produced.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said the funds had been disbursed to 13 farmer Cooperative Societies to address weak market frameworks, shortage of agricultural extension services, unavailability of certified seed and expansion of storage facilities to mitigate post harvest losses among 2,836 small holder farmers.
The World Bank Funded initiative under the aegis of National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) is working on a strategy that targets cooperatives in the dairy, Irish Potato, Local chicken, and apiculture to form individual unions representing each subsector to facilitate installation of processing plants and value addition chains.
Nakuru is one of the 21 counties that are beneficiaries of the project that has been allocated Shs 22.6 billion. It aims to increase agricultural productivity and improve food security in 420 selected wards in the country. The project is targeting 360,000 people countrywide.
Speaking when he issued cheques to 217 micro enterprises and the unions at the Nakuru Agricultural Training Center, Governor Kinyanjui called on farmers to take advantage of existing research institutions in the County and acquire knowledge about viable farming practices that can spur them to diversification and global markets for more profit.
He said the devolved unit was collaborating with Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Agricultural Finance Cooperation, Egerton University and other organizations in developing farming technologies towards countering climate change and enhancing food security.
He stated that this collaboration also purposes to give more attention to research and knowledge sharing on how to incorporate technology in farming and variety of crops to invest in.
Such will is anticipated to further emphasize on adoption of mechanized farming, innovation in areas like drought resistant varieties of seeds, environment friendly farming practices and better post-harvest management to reduce on losses.
Farmers were also encouraged to join cooperative societies given that working in groups can increase their bargaining power and order inputs in bulk therefore, lowering their expenditure besides increasing their chances of accessing markets at better prices.
County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Dr Immaculate Maina said last year farmers in the region earned Ksh 9.6 billion from the sale of 291 million liters of milk. During the period Nakuru was the third highest producer of milk in the country after Kiambu and Murang’a counties.
She noted that the County has received financial support from a World Bank funded program to tackle challenges holding back the dairy sub sector.
These include limited availability of quality and affordable feeds, inadequate infrastructure including access roads and milk cooling facilities, limited extension services, low value addition to absorb surpluses during glut, and limited access to markets and market information.
Nakuru County has 310,000 dairy animals that yield an average of 5 liters per animals. This production is far below the global average of 24.5 liters /cow/day.
The CEC explained that the devolved unit is working on new strategies to be adopted by farmers to increase milk production per animal to at least 15 liters which will translate to Khs 25 billion earnings annually.
This will make farmers earn more than the current prices that range between Sh28 and Sh35 per liter of milk against a background where currently half a liter of processed milk is retailing at over Sh50.
The CEC said key issues negatively affecting productivity in the devolved unit have been identified as poor animal breeds/breeding, use of low-quality inputs, and poor-quality feeds.
The CEC further noted that the funding was significant in scaling up productivity among Irish Potato farmers who last year produced 100,000 metric tons worth Ksh.9 Billion.
Farmer Njoroge Thuo and Anne Njambi hailed the program saying it will help farmers earn from their investments and effectively participate in the much needed cohesive development of the country.
The NARIGP project covers 20 wards in Naivasha, Kuresoi North, Molo, Njoro and Bahati Sub Counties in Nakuru County and 21 Counties in a move aimed at making agriculture an inclusive enabler to economic freedom and a spring board to sustainable food sufficiency.
The USD Million 217 (Ksh.22 Billion Project) ends in 2021 and at its closure it is expected to have reached out to and transformed livelihoods of more at least 800,000 households across the country.