Milk supply up marginally after short rains start

Milk production has remained depressed even after the onset of short rains with Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) indicating the supply fell 29 per cent in the eight months to August compared with the similar period last year.

KDB says the drought cut milk intake to 346 million litres in August this year from 442.8 million litres.

The data indicates last June was the worst hit with production dropping by 42 per cent to 42 million litres from 66 million litres last year.

Livestock Principal Secretary Andrew Tuimur says the dairy sector has only realised an increase of 15 per cent in production since the rains started.

“The growth has not been significant and processors have only registered an increase of 15 per cent since May,” said Dr Tuimur.

KDB notes the impact varied from region to region with Rift Valley emerging the worst-hit due to reliance on free-range system.

“Greatest decline was observed in Rift Valley and this was attributed to free-range grazing system which is predominant in the region. While the least decline was observed in Central and upper Eastern due to intensive rearing systems,” says the regulator in a report.

Central Kenya practises zero-grazing while Rift Valley relies on rain-fed forage.

Farmers who practise zero-grazing preserve fodder that sustains livestock the whole year.

Kenya has faced a shortage of milk since January following a dry spell that hit the country late last year, prompting the government to open a duty-free window for importation of powdered milk in May to ease shortage.

Milk prices had shot to an all-time high following a prolonged drought that lasted from December 2016 to May 2017, one of the longest dry periods recorded in the recent past. Processors reduced the price in May following a marginal increase in production.

The drop saw the price of a half-litre packet of fesh milk: Ilara to Sh55 from Sh65, Tuzo to Sh52 from Sh62 and Molo (Sh50 from Sh60) while KCC at Sh50 down from Sh60 at major retail outlets.

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