SAFE MILK CAMPAIGN

Baringo dairy cooperative championing milk safety from farm to consumer

Initially, milk adulteration was rampant, but it is now minimal, says manager

In Summary
  • Livestock PS says most milk producers in Kenya are small-scale and may lack the technology to test for contamination
  •  He advised consumers to protect their health by purchasing only tested and certified milk
Hillary Kosgei, production manager at Mogotio Farmers Cooperative Society in Baringo county tests milk before it is transferred into milk coolers.
Hillary Kosgei, production manager at Mogotio Farmers Cooperative Society in Baringo county tests milk before it is transferred into milk coolers.
Image: AGATHA NGOTHO
Hillary Kibet Kosgei, production manager, Mogotio Farmers Cooperative Society in Baringo county tests milk.
Hillary Kibet Kosgei, production manager, Mogotio Farmers Cooperative Society in Baringo county tests milk.
Image: AGATHA NGOTHO

The Kenyan government is currently promoting the "Safe Milk Kenya" campaign, to ensure the safety for both local and export markets.

This campaign, implemented by Bio Foods Products Limited and USAID, targets the entire dairy value chain, including feed manufacturers, farmers, milk processors and consumers.

Livestock PS Jonathan Mueke urged consumers to protect their health by purchasing only tested and certified milk.

He advised Kenyans to buy processed milk, as processors can test and reject products contaminated with bacteria such as aflatoxin.

Farm gate milk can be contaminated through various means, such as dirty milking practices, recent antibiotic treatment of cows, or aflatoxin-laced feed.

“So we are also telling the consumers, watch out for your own health and for your own safety.  Buy products that are tested, that are certified as good for human consumption,” he said.

Most milk producers in Kenya are small-scale and may lack the technology to test for contamination.

Mueke pointed out that boiling milk does not eliminate aflatoxin, which originates from contaminated animal feed.

Aflatoxin can cause stunted growth in children and cancer in humans. Therefore, contaminated milk should be discarded at the source.

Despite these challenges, some cooperatives are committed to ensuring the milk they receive is clean and safe before it reaches the milk coolers.

Joseph Kimeto, manager of Mogotio Farmers Cooperative Society in Baringo county, said quality and safety are their top priorities.

To ensure this, he said the cooperative provides toxic-free feed to members and trains farmers to avoid using milk during periods when animals are under treatment.

Kimeto explained that the cooperative conducts tests and checks to ensure milk safety.

They use test kits for aflatoxin and antibiotics, and an extension officer is sent to train farmers in affected areas.

Additionally, platform tests like density testing with a lactometer are performed.

Kimeto noted that milk adulteration has significantly decreased, and the cooperative ensures transporters sieve milk at farm gates to maintain quality.

"Initially, milk adulteration was rampant, but it is now minimal. We monitor farmers who tamper with milk for density issues and test their milk daily. Another challenge is that some members do not sieve their milk, so we have our transporters sieve it at the farm gates to ensure quality," he said.

Robert Kilonzo, USAID Kenya and East Africa project management specialist, pointed out that producing safe milk can save farmers money otherwise spent on contaminated milk.

In an interview with the Star, Kilonzo stated that producing safe milk will enable farmers to increase their production volume, increase their income and improve agricultural practices.

"Without the production of safe milk, farmers will end up spending large sums of money treating and destroying contaminated milk. What if we change the narrative and implement mechanisms to do things right from the start, allowing these resources to be used for other developments?" Kilonzo asked.

He said the initiative, part of the Africa Trade and Investments program, aims to enhance the dairy industry's impact in Kenya. 

Kilonzo expressed optimism about the project's outcomes, which are expected to be achieved by 2026, including increased farmer participation and income levels.

"We expect Bio Foods and our partners to achieve all agreed milestones." 

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