Kenya’s dairy industry is one of the country’s most important economic sectors. The previous several years have seen the rise of new challenges due to the sector’s increasing innovations, investments, and complexity, even with the increased interest that local and foreign investors have shown in it. Rising urbanization and incomes, changes in consumer preferences for conveniently packaged and flavorful milk products, changes in the retail sector, the emergence of innovatively formulated and packaged dairy products, are all creating the best opportunities for the dairy industry to prosper beyond all reasonable expectations.
Communities in most dry lands of Kenya are synonymous with keeping large herds of indigenous livestock, which on many occasions give little returns as the animals trek for long distances in search of water and pasture. However, things are slowly changing with the advancement of technology as these smallholder farmers in arid areas have been encouraged to embark on keeping exotic breeds that add value to their milk to attract better returns.
Some of the innovations put into place include the introduction of probiotic yoghurt in arid areas to boost the farmers’ income. This innovation is used in the processing of yogurt, creating beneficial microorganisms that protect the body from communicable and non-communicable diseases. Fiti probiotic yogurt is made by processing powdered Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, a fermenting bacterium packed in one-gram sachets. One gram of culture or powder fermenting bacterium in a sachet can make one hundred liters of yogurt from fresh milk. This culture is one that farmers can readily preserve and use in areas without electricity.
Farmers from the arid areas, for example, Narok County, have been targeted to receive training on milk value addition to fetch maximum profits, promoting health and wealth simultaneously. A semi-arid climate has always been ideal for the production of dairy products. This does, however, imply that there are dry and wet seasons. While there is a shortage of milk for yogurt during the dry season, there is an excess of milk production during the rainy season, which causes milk prices to drop significantly. Efforts have been made to establish confidence with the farmers and a more reliable supply of milk if they can stabilize their milk prices by manufacturing yogurt.
KCIC is currently supporting Moyale Enterprises in Isiolo through the AgriBiz program. The company, which deals with yoghurt production, has been a key pillar in the region and has greatly boosted the farmers in the arid areas and significantly promoted the production of yoghurt in the region.
It has been critical to raise the caliber of the yogurt that was made and the milk purchased from farmers in the dry regions. This has been achieved by facilitating the farmers’ access to high-quality animal feed and fodder. Additionally, collaboration with various food technologists to improve the yogurt’s quality has also been prioritized. Using the proper stabilizer and bacterial culture increases the yogurt’s ability to last longer on the shelf as a result boosting its production.