SHORTAGE

Kenya likely to import powder milk as production drops

Decrease attributed to market disruption due to Covid-19 and cold weather

In Summary

•KCC directed to release 1, 000 metric tonnes of milk powder, an equivalent of one million litres of milk, to processors to convert it into raw milk.   

•Currently, dairy milk processors have a stock of milk powder that can only last the country one month.

A worker at Kaiti Dairy Cooperative Society, Makueni county, receives milk from a farmer/FILE
A worker at Kaiti Dairy Cooperative Society, Makueni county, receives milk from a farmer/FILE

The government could be forced to import powder milk to bridge an imminent milk shortage in the country, occasioned by a drop in production.

There has been a 36 per cent drop in milk production in the country since January.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya has attributed the reduction to the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted the market, foot and mouth disease being experienced in some counties, and the cold weather season.

He spoke at a Nairobi hotel yesterday during a brief on the impact of Covid-19 on the dairy industry in the country.

“The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the milk market following the closure of schools and hotels hence a laxity from farmers in producing milk,"Munya said.

"The foot and mouth disease is also a contributor to the drop in production. The milk industry is in distress as processers do not have sufficient milk and are not able to satisfy the market," the CS added, "the government might be forced to import in order to meet the deficit.

He said in January, milk production was at 63 million litres per month, but it has since dropped to 42 million litres per month.

“The national monthly demand for milk stands at 54 million litres hence a deficit of 12 million. Kenya has one of the biggest dairy sectors in Africa producing 5.2 billion litres per annum and consumes everything it produces,” he said.

To meet the deficit, Munya has directed new–KCC to release 1, 000 metric tonnes of milk powder, an equivalent of one million litres of milk to processors to convert it into raw milk.   

Currently, dairy milk processors have a stock of milk powder that can only last the country one month.

“The capita consumption per person stands at 110 litres per annum. Although this is one of the biggest in sub – Sahara Africa, it is still below the FAO recommended per capita of 220 liters per annum,” said the CS.

He further pointed out that recent trends in the country show that the amount of milk produced in the country and going through the formal sector has continued to decline since the beginning of this year.

This is reflected in the volume of formally marketed milk which has reduced from 63.4 million litres in January to 42 million litres in July.

Munya has urged farmers to invest in animal feeds to boost milk production as there is a guaranteed market from the five main milk processors in the country.

Margaret Kibogy, Kenya Dairy Board managing director confirmed that the cold spell has greatly contributed to the low production, but that farm gate prices have gone up to a high of up to Sh40 per litre.  

She said in other years, the country experiences high production in the months of May-June, and then a drop between July to August due to the cold spell.

“But this year the trend has changed and there has been a drop in milk production in the month of June due to prolonged cold weather season and high consumption at the household levels as children are now at home,” said Kibogy.

The CS called on farmers to intensify the production of milk and ensure that the milk is marketed formally.

“This will ensure that we build on the gains made so far in the sector and are able to absorb shocks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to assure them that the government and my ministry, in particular, will continue supporting them to ensure that they get a favorable return on their investments,” he said.