KENYA – Githunguri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, known for its Fresha milk products, has expanded into the international dairy market by securing an export deal for their UHT (Ultra High Temperature) milk.

The cooperative is set to export 250,000 litres of UHT milk per month to countries in the Middle East, including Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

The society’s chairman, George Kinuthia, highlighted that the company has already dispatched the first shipment of 113,750 litres of UHT milk, expressing optimism that this volume would increase as their overseas market expands.

“The Kenyan milk market has been increasingly dominated by our neighboring countries, which prompted us to explore new markets beyond the African continent,” Kinuthia explained.

“We have now successfully tapped into this Middle East market, with our first batch of milk already on its way to Saudi Arabia.”

He noted that the agreement with Middle Eastern buyers will ensure that the society is paid in US dollars, a welcome development as the value of the dollar is on the rise.

The society, which ranks as the third-largest milk processor in Kenya in profitability and size, recently reported an increase in total revenue from US$4.69 million to us$4.99 million although their surplus before tax saw a decrease from US$1. 38 million to US$1.3 million.

As of June, this year, the net asset position of the society stood at US$21 million, compared to US$19.91 million in the previous financial period.

The society’s share capital increased from US$126,116 to US$128,573 over the past year. Despite the growth, the final dividend for members decreased to US$115,240 from US$117,518. This reduction is attributed to increased business costs and the rising cost of living.

Kinuthia emphasized the financial challenges faced by the cooperative and its members, highlighting the escalating costs of essential materials for dairy farming, including animal feeds like bran, maize germ, pollard, and dairy meal.

“The prices of materials, spares, and the exchange rate, notably the dollar, have surged by approximately US$0.1886 within a year. This has eroded the society’s profits and has had a direct impact on the dividends we can pay our farmers,” Kinuthia said.

The chairman appealed to the government to address the issue of rising costs, particularly for farming-related products.

He also urged the government to assist the processing industry in recovering debts owed by several retail chains, including Uchumi Supermarket, Nakumatt Supermarket, and others like Naks Superstores Limited, Wonderland Foods, Saltes Supermarket, Tuskys Supermarket, and Mulei Supermarkets.

Joseph Karanja, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee, reported that the society has experienced membership growth, with 27,607 members, up from 27,113 in the previous year.

He also highlighted the expansion of the society’s infrastructure, with 87 milk collection points, 13 cooling centers, 59 stores, one warehouse, and six milk tankers. They are now collecting 265,000 litres of milk daily, up from 236,000 liters last year.

“Our milk products have continued to gain popularity, and the society has ventured into new markets, selling milk in areas such as Bosmar, Kakuma, Mpeketoni, Lamu Sambati, and overseas,” Karanja added.

Ruth Njeri, a dairy farmer, expressed concerns over the high cost and low quality of animal feeds, which negatively affect milk production.

She urged the government to address these issues, emphasizing the need for the government to honor its commitment to supporting farmers by ensuring that farm inputs and animal feed inputs remain zero-rated, as previously announced.