Milk production in Africa stagnating

In Summary

• The dairy sub-sector recorded growth between the month of June and August due to the rains.

• Farmers told to ensure there is animal feed during the dry season so that it can bring balance to supply and demand chain in the long term. 

Workers pour milk delivered by farmers at Olkalou Dairy cooling plant due to oversupply.
Workers pour milk delivered by farmers at Olkalou Dairy cooling plant due to oversupply.
Image: FILE

Africa's milk production is on the decline even as production in Europe, Asia and America rises, according to Agriculture cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.

He said this is not because Africa lacks the potential but due to lack of appropriate technology.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, Africa produced 35.4 metric tonnes in 2017.

This represents 5.2 percent of the total global production of cow milk of 675.6 metric tonnes in 2017.

Kiunjuri said one of the key challenge in the Kenyan dairy industry is on how to increase productivity and production of milk to meet the increasing market demand for milk and milk products.

“Increasing urbanization, growth of the middle increase, and increased awareness by consumers on milk quality and safety have cumulatively expanded the market for quality and safe milk and milk products,” he said.

Kiunjuri said to address this, the government is exploring on several strategies to promote medium to large scale milk production through private investments and cooperative based dairy production units.

“The future of the national, regional, and global dairy industry is dependent on efficiency throughout the value chain, compliance to regulatory and market requirements, value addition, technology adoption, and environmental conservation, among other factors,” the CS said.

Kiunjuri made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by the ministry's chief administrative secretary Andrew Tuimur at the opening ceremony of the 15th Africa Dairy Conference and Exhibition at KICC.

This production is insufficient to meet the demand for milk and milk products in Africa, necessitating imports from other regions.


According to the UN food agency, Africa has the potential to increase milk production and meet the requirements of the 1.2 billion inhabitants and leave a surplus for exports, with adoption and implementation of appropriate strategies.

Data from FAO shows that global exports of dairy products, in milk equivalents, increased from 72.9 million tonnes in 2017 to 75 million tonnes in 2018, a growth of three percent.

In 2018, 2.6 million tonnes of skim milk powder, 2.57 million tonnes of cheese, 2.46 million tonnes of whole milk powder, and 917.9 tonnes of butter were exported.

This demand is projected to grow by 2.5 percent per annum up to the year 2020 due to increasing urbanization and rising incomes.

Livestock principal secretary Harry Kimutai said to increase milk production, the government has procured 2,600 Artificial Insemination-AI services kits to enhance provision of the semen’s to the smallholder dairy farmers.

“So far he confirmed 1,300 kits have been distributed dairy cooperative societies. Further, Sh300 million has been allocated for the enhancement semens production facilities, and already procured mobile liquid tankers from Italy and France at Sh40 million which are expected in the country in the next one month,” said Kimtai.

The conference organized by the Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association, brought together 132 local and international exhibitors and over 2, 000 participants in the entire dairy food chain.

Peter Ngaruiya the ESADA Executive Director said the annual event has become a melting pot of solutions for policy makers, dairy producers, consumers and suppliers of dairy solution.

The main focus is technology transfer, knowledge sharing and nurturing of business partnerships for regional and international trade.

“The government wants to ensure that there is consistency in both production and supply throughout the year. As a country, we have not achieved optimum utilization capacity hence the plan to move from 640 million processed milk to one billion throughout the year,” said Margaret Kobogy, Kenya Dairy Board Managing Director.