Farmers in Nandi County want the national government to ban imports of milk products and reintroduce free milk to primary schools as one way of expanding and safeguarding the local consumption market.
They say middlemen importing powder milk are undermining them and lament high taxation on animal feeds, which they want exempted from VAT to lower the cost of production.
Led by Dr Abraham Rugut, the chairman of the Nandi County cooperative societies, they decried powder milk imports, arguing that they can produce sufficient milk to meet demand.
Said Dr Rugut: "Dairy farmers in Nandi want counties and the national government to bring back school milk in all public schools because it’s an instant market which the government should exploit to boost local farmers who are suffering low earnings.”
Citing rising costs of animal feeds since Covid-19 broke out in the country in 2020, they said the selling price of milk should be fixed at Sh60 per litre, noting that they are struggling to make ends meet.
Dairy farmers in Nandi produce over 700,000 litres of milk every day, county government records show.
The county has 320,000 high-grade cows, which produce 195 million litres of milk per year with an estimated value of Sh5.9 billion.
In wet seasons, local farmers produce an average of over 778,250 litres of milk per day and 534,247 in other times, Dr Rugut said.
Nandi farmers want the national government to abolish tax on all animal feeds, saying this would allow them to invest in quality animals and increase milk production.
Dr Rugut said the high cost of electricity and fuel had added to dairy farmers’ woes, prompting them to avoid investing in zero-grazing projects.
The farmers urged the Nandi County government to ensure small cooperative societies are well managed to serve small-scale dairy farmers’ needs. They want more agriculture and livestock extension field officers hired to advise farmers.
They also urged officials to speed up the construction of a Sh1.2 billion milk-processing factory in Kabiyet, Mosop sub-county, expressing confidence that it would absorb dairy produce from local farmers and even from neighbouring counties.
They also want the local government to establish nitrogen plants in Nandi’s six sub-counties to facilitate artificial insemination services.