- The county had earlier registered Murang’a County Creameries Union under which the factory was established.
- Milk prices jumped from as low as Sh18 to Sh35 per litre that the county government eventually upped to Sh40 per litre.
Dairy farmers in Murang’a county now want the county government to transfer the multi-million Murang’a County Creameries plant to them.
The farmers, who met during public participation forums organised by the county government on Friday, unanimously agreed to take over the ownership of the factory that was started in 2018 by former governor Mwangi wa Iria.
Wa Iria started the Sh500 million plant as part of his flagship project that saw him install milk coolers to help farmers preserve their milk and reduce post-harvest losses.
The coolers are managed by dairy co-operative societies.
The county government had earlier registered Murang’a County Creameries Union, an umbrella co-operative society for all 35 dairy co-operative society, under which the factory was established.
Milk prices jumped from as low as Sh18 to Sh35 per litre that the county government eventually upped to Sh40 per litre as farmers engaged in contract farming.
The former governor also invested millions into provision of high quality nappier grass to farmers and later started the One Home, One Cow programme that saw low-income families issued with subsidised high quality dairy cows.
Last year, however, the county government shut down the factory claiming it was not running efficiently and had incurred heavy debts.
In March this year, the trade committee in the county assembly held a meeting with a team of officials from the county executive where members were informed that the plant owed Sh74 million to workers and suppliers.
Governor Irungu Kang’ata then made public his intention to privatise the factory, but said that any progressive proposal on how the factory could be restored would be welcomed.
But farmers said they have the capacity to take over the factory and use it to boost their earnings by producing a variety of dairy products.
Kamahuha Dairy Co-operative Society chairperson Fred Kinyanjui said majority of the dairy farmers have been in numerous co-operative societies and have acquired the experience required to lead the plant.
“Transferring the plant back to MCCU will give us direct power to make decisions on how our milk is processed and marketed,” he said.
Kinyanjui urged farmers to increase their milk production and engage in commercial dairy farming that will impact their income positively.
The Trade and Industrialisation executive Kimani Mugo confirmed that farmers tasked the county administration with transferring the plant in two public participation forums.
Further, the county government will pump Sh40 million towards clearing part of the factory’s debts and help farmers run the factory more efficiently.
“The plant has huge assets and the county administration and as a county government, we plan to ensure it is expanded to support farmers to engage in value addition,” he said.
Mugo further said that the county government has expanded the subsidies programme that saw a section of farmers earn Sh3.50 per litre of milk sold to benefit more farmers.
In April this year, the county government invited dairy co-operatives to bid for the milk subsidy out of which 13 with a membership of 19,254 were vetted and approved.
“The subsidy programme will now cover all dairy farmers and will encourage more of them to sell their produce through the plant," Mugo said.
Kamahuha MCA James Kabera, who is also the trade committee chairperson, said both the assembly and county government have been looking for ways of reviving the factory and ensuring it serves the farmers as it was initially intended.
Kabera said that the number of farmers who have joined MCCU has increased from 3,900 to 4,400, indicating their confidence in the factory.
The acting County Co-operatives commissioner John Nderu said MCCU is a professional entity capable of running the factory.
"MCCU is a very stable union with over 30 primary dairy co-operatives and includes everybody," he said.