• Kenyans to tighten their belts as cost of a packet of milk expected to cross the Sh60 mark-up.
• New KCC managing director warns that the situation will get worse if the rains do not come next month.
Consumers have been alerted that the price of milk is likely to go up by Sh5 or more.
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said milk production has gone down due to drought.
“With the weather projection, consumer milk prices are likely to increase by Sh5 or more. The livestock conditions may also get worse especially in the arid and semi-arid areas,” Tuimur told the Star by phone yesterday.
This is corroborated by the National Drought Management Authority April early warning bulletin released on Wednesday.
The agency says milk production in 12 counties is below long-term average. The counties are Garissa, Turkana, Kajiado, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Mandera, Laikipia, Narok, Makueni, Lamu and Nyeri (Kieni)). The below normal production is due to water scarcity and inadequate forage.
New KCC managing director Nixon Sigey says the country has enough milk to last up to next month. He warns that the situation will get worse if the rains do not come next month.
Sigey says there is a stock of 1,500 tons of power milk to stabilise the consumer prices until next month.
“Our milk plants in Eldoret, Kitale, and Kiganjo are able to convert the excess milk we received in November and December into milk powder which is now stabilising the consumer prices.”
Milk is retailing at Sh50-Sh60 in supermarkets. Both the New KCC and Brookside have since increased farm-gate prices by Sh5 from Sh31. The increased farm-gate price is meant to cushion farmers against the effects of drought.
Sigey says the situation could have been worse if the dairies had not stocked powder milk. He said the dairy farmers should understand the two-year drought cycle and conserve animal feed for use in dry seasons.
“It is very critical for farmers to ensure a consistent supply of milk by conserving hay and silage. The current situation was not anticipated. The rains have delayed by one month and the supply has drastically dropped.”
According to Egerton University's Tegemeo Institute, the cost of producing a litre of milk in the country is between Sh19 and Sh22 but industry players want the cost reduced to Sh14 to remain competitive in East Africa.
“The drought situation will happen again in the next two years and for planning purposes, the national and county governments, extension services and milk processors must team up and ensure that the issue of consistency in supply of milk is addressed to avoid these seasonality issues,” Sigey says.
Kenya Dairy Board MD Margaret Kibogy said they are monitoring the drought situation to ensure that consumers do not suffer unduly.