Dairy industry in Uasin Gishu grapples with COVID-19 effects

The dairy industry in Uasin Gishu County has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic forcing a shutdown of most milk outlets since March.

A farmer from Tuiyoluk Alice Kiprono said the outbreak of the disease has disrupted milk supply chain leaving farmers with excess milk at the family level.

Ms Kiprono, an owner of two dairy cows and a member of Tuiyoluk Dairy Cooperatives society said the cooperative has 937 members, but only 500 deliver their milk to the society since the pandemic struck in March.

She said since schools closed and students were forced to remain at home due to the pandemic, she now only delivers ten litres of her milk production to the co-operative society and leaves three litres to be used by her children.

“Because I have now cut down the number of litres I deliver to the cooperative society, the income I used to get has also reduced making it difficult to even buy dairy feed for my livestock,” she said.
“I used to deliver at least 13 litres of milk in the morning and another three litres in the afternoon, now I deliver 10 litres in the morning and none in the afternoon because of the effects of Covid-19,” said the dairy farmer.

Another farmer, John Kipngetich said a majority of farmers have also shied away from delivering their milk to the collection centre for fear of contracting the Coronavirus.

He, however, added that the outbreak of the disease has had a positive side because milk prices now fluctuate between Sh27 and Sh32 at local outlets which is good for the farmer.

Jacob Kibet from Moi Soy co-operatives society, Kabenes paints the same picture saying the society has 500 members who deliver only 1,700 litres to the milk cooling plant with the bulk of the milk being consumed at the family level.

However, the Tuiyoluk farmers can breathe a sigh of relief after a nongovernmental organization Heifer International donated PPEs to cushions the farmers from being exposed to the Covid-19 infection as they deliver their milk to the coolers.

Heifer International Marketing officer Agnes Kaveke while presenting the PPEs to the farmers at Illula said the farmers need to observe hygiene since they fear interacting with other farmers while delivering their milk.

She challenged farmers to embrace modern dairy technology to increase milk production in the County that she observed has been dwindling since 2017.

– Source KNA