KENYA – The Kenyan government has urged dairy farmers in the country to form cooperatives as a means of enhancing market access and improving income.

Simon Chelugui, the Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives and Micro and Small Enterprise Development, emphasized that the government has initiatives to support farmers, but the absence of proper structures has hindered their implementation.

Encouraging dairy farmers to join the cooperative movement, Chelugui highlighted the benefits, including increased access to markets, natural resources, information, communication, technologies, credit, training, and warehouses.

“Cooperatives play a crucial role in providing opportunities for small agricultural producers and addressing challenges such as weak market frameworks, shortages of agricultural extension services, and the unavailability of certified seeds,” he noted.

Chelugui pointed out that well-managed cooperatives have the potential to reduce the cost of milk marketing and enable farmers to realize higher returns.

He added that the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) is also leveraging the cooperative model to eliminate brokers and milk transporters in the dairy sector, aiming to empower farmers to invest in dairy infrastructure and directly engage with processors.

“The government is working on new policies and governance structures to boost milk production in Kenya from 4.6 billion to 10 billion liters annually.”

Milk and its related products have the highest per capita consumption in Kenya, with 93.3 kilograms per person annually, according to the 2020 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Food Balance Sheet report.

The dairy subsector provides livelihoods for approximately 1.8 million smallholder households, contributing significantly to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the report, the annual milk production in Kenya was estimated at 5.28 billion liters in 2022, valued at Kshs. 230 billion. The government aims to increase annual milk production to around 12 billion liters by 2030.

In addition, Kenya’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) recognizes the dairy sector as a priority, with goals that include doubling milk production, expanding dairy exports, increasing formal marketing of milk, and raising the monthly income of small-scale dairy farmers.

As the government encourages the formation of cooperatives, it anticipates that this cooperative approach will contribute to the economic growth of dairy farmers, provide sustainable solutions to challenges in the sector, and align with broader national development objectives.