Kenya's dairy sector is the most advanced in the East Africa region.
According to Julie Kariuki, the East Africa Dairy Development regional business manager, the sector is highly competitive in Kenya, with new entrants coming up to do business locally and in the region.
"However, much as there is a lot of investment in the dairy sector, farmers still need support on issues such as artificial insemination services in order to get quality breeds,” she said.
She was speaking during an exchange forum for East Africa farmers in Nyahururu, which saw 77 producer organisations from Tanzania visit dairy farmers in Laikipia and Nyeri counties to learn more about dairy farming.
Daniel Laizer, EADD project manager in Tanzania, said the diary sector in his country has not been active and many cooperatives closed due to mismanagement, noting that they are now trying to revive them.
"We want our farmers to be able to increase their milk production, which currently stands at a maximum of 24 litres per cow per day, unlike in Kenya which is 20 to 69 litres per cow per day,” he said.
Kariuki added that Kenya has tremendous knowledge to offer around dairy production, with a comparatively more advanced dairy industry in the region.
"Kenya’s rapidly growing middle class demands much higher and more consistent quantities of milk. The per capita milk demand is projected to double from 111 litres to 220 litres by 2030,” Kariuki said.
She however noted that despite the high investment, the country's dairy sector is not well coordinated and there is need to harmonise resources to ensure that the full potential of the industry is achieved.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Kenya’s per capita milk consumption is among the highest globally of any low-income developing country.
"With food prices, including milk, on the rise, production must continue to increase if prices are to remain affordable for families. EADD II is part of the solution and, in fact, this is one of the programme’s goals. Heifer International works with dairy farmers to ensure that plenty of high-quality milk is available for consumers,” she said.
The East Africa Dairy Development Project is a five-year regional industry development programme which focuses on sustainably improving livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers by enhancing dairy production and market access in East Africa.
The project is led by Heifer International in partnership with Technoserve, International Livestock Research Institute, African Breeders Service and the World Agroforestry Centre with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kariuki said the project will work with 58,000 smallholder farm families over three years in Kenya and will focus on helping existing hubs reach a high performance level so they can graduate from the programme.