KENYA – Brookside Dairy Limited, the largest dairy processor in Kenya, has shut down a Taita County operation due to insufficient milk production occasioned by the existence of local brokers in the region.

This marks the second time that the giant dairy producer has shut down its 10 000 litre cooling plant Wumingu, which had been operating here for almost ten years.

The closure of the plant is the result of a number of negotiations which did not yield any substantial agreement in relation to its stay in the region.

In 2020, Brookside had informed farmers that, due to a shortage of raw milk and an unviable business, it was withdrawing from the region.

According to Apolinary Tulu, a member of Mwafugha Dairy Cooperative, problems with the dairy company started when they urged the cooperative to deliver milk at its main business in Ruiru which led prices to drop from Kes53 per litre to Kes48.

“Initially the company had a big scope but the formation of many cooperatives has downsized the milk volumes,” Tulu added.

 “The company was buying more than 45 per cent of the entire raw milk produced in the area. The remaining milk is bought by other milk companies and middlemen who supply to the local market.”

In the meantime, Tulu said the Mwafugha Dairy Cooperative is now pursuing options of working with the Kenya Creameries Cooperative to sell milk and avert possible losses.

“KCC has come on board and we are combining efforts with Ngache and Wundanyi farmers to meet their demand,” he said, noting that the Wumingu farmers produce at least 1,200 litres per day.

He however noted that there has been a deficit of cooling plants and that farmers are forced to store their milk at other dairy cooperative’s cooling plants in the region.

Tulu urged the government to support the dairy value chain through market linkage to reduce losses, pointing out that the daily milk production is too high for the local market.

Meanwhile, the government has announced the distribution of 650 milk coolers before December which will help farmers in milk preservation.

This followed an earlier announcement that government plans to reinstate the stalled milk coolers’ programme and distribution.

Isiolo Governor Abdi Hassan Guyo urged the President to also consider camel milk production when setting up such establishments.

“As camel herders, we have a few challenges with coolers. With coolers, Isiolo can produce more than 50,000 litres a day,” Guyo said.

Earlier this year, Guyo announced that the county will also benefit from the newly commissioned Kenya Cooperative Creameries Kiganjo factory in Nyeri which would be used to boost camel milk production.

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