KENYA – The Kenyan County Government of Makueni has operationised the Kathonzweni Milk Processing Plant by installing a new water treatment plant. 

This plant will provide clean water for processing value-added dairy products such as pasteurized milk, mala, and yogurt. Its operationalization aims to reduce milk spoilage for local farmers and boost their income.

Agriculture Executive Joyce Mutua and Livestock Chief Officer Japheth Kiminza recently visited the plant to pre-test the water treatment system, ensuring it meets the required quality standards. 

This initiative is part of a USAID-funded Accelerated Value Chain Development Programme, which, along with other milk factories installed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) across the country, targets drought-resistant crops, dairy, and livestock value chains.

Despite installing KES 100 million worth of machinery five years ago, the facility had remained idle due to the lack of water and milk, leading to the rusting of the equipment. 

Addressing these issues, Agriculture Executive Mutua stated that the government is working on piping water from a borehole to the factory and will soften the water to meet the plant’s operational needs.

Additionally, Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jr. has secured funding from the World Bank’s National Agriculture Value Chain Development Programme and county resources to operationalize the milk factory by June.

Jacinta Nzive, Manager at the Kathonzweni Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, revealed that the region currently produces around 1,400 liters of milk daily. 

More is needed for a plant designed to process 1,000 liters per hour. Due to local suspicions, attempts to source milk from the Kilome and Mbooni regions were unsuccessful.

The government plans to offer milk processing services to individual farmers and organized groups for a fee to address these challenges. Initially, the factory will process fermented milk and yogurt for individuals and community-based organizations, bringing milk in small volumes. 

Meanwhile, efforts to increase milk production are being intensified through the aggressive promotion of hybrid dairy cow breeds, the use of sexed semen, and the preservation of assorted fodder grasses for hay and silage production.

The operationalization of the Kathonzweni Milk Processing Plant is a crucial step in enhancing the dairy industry in Makueni County, ensuring better income for local farmers and sustainable agricultural development.

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