Smallholder dairy farming system constitutes an important source of livelihoods to the majority of mixed crop-livestock farmers involved in agricultural production in Kenya. While, smallholder dairy farmers make a shift towards market-oriented dairy production, they are faced with persistent challenges of low productivity, coupled with limited labour inputs.
This practice has condemned smallholder dairy farmers to subsistence production, resulting to low income, low saving and low investment in the dairy sector, triggering vicious cycle of low inputs, low productivity, low technology applications and environmental degradation, which translate into abject poverty.
Smallholder dairy farming has become an important source of milk and has created employment for many resource poor households in the country but low productive performance and high cost of inputs reduces its profitability.
In this regard, the Kenya Agribusiness and Agroindustry Alliance (KAAA) has partnered with Agricultural Training Centers (ATCs) in the country to ensure that small holder dairy farmers get the necessary information and services which are essential in increasing their milk production. The first Alliance’s small holder dairy farmers open day event will be held at Waruhiu farm (ATC) in Kiambu county.
The key areas the Alliance and partners emphasize on are;
Expensive feeds and supplements- due to the high cost of producing commercial feeds, it is quite expensive for any dairy farmer to largely depend on the same. Regular fresh fodder is also an issue depending on which parts of the country you’re in.
Unpredictable weather patterns- this means less fresh feeds and unforeseen shortages. Due to deforestation and poor farming practices, it requires proper planning for emergencies and contingent measures need to be put in place.
Poor storage facilities – most farmers are not equipped with proper storage facilities thus some milk usually goes to waste on production. This happens a lot during the rains when milk production’s at its peak.
Poor infrastructure – this relates to roads meant to access dairy farms.
Disease and quarantine – due to changing weather patterns, the incidence of disease is quite high now and depending on how soon you’re able to diagnose this, it can mean the end of your beloved stock of cattle.
Diminished veterinary services– this means that securing a vet’s service can be quite expensive unlike past practices where Government officials did rounds in the farms. This also applies to A.I services which have also become quite pricey.