KENYA – Dairy farmers have received a major boost after leading processor Brookside increased producer prices of milk by Sh7 per kilo.

The new rates, effective mid-January, will see the firm’s raw milk suppliers earn up to Sh35 for every kilo of raw milk supplied, as the firm seeks to consolidate its 40 per cent leadership in the country’s milk market.

“The new prices are an incentive to our farmers to invest in climate smart dairy practices, such as establishment of fodder crops and pasture grasses during what appears to be an extended rainfall season,” John Gethi, Brookside’s director of milk procurement and manufacturing, said in a statement.

He said investment in fodder production would address the challenge of seasonality by ensuring consistency in milk production across all seasons.

 “With the enhanced producer prices, we are urging all farmers to redouble their efforts towards sustainable farming by being deliberate in the planning for the cheaper option of farm produced animal feeds,” Gethi added.

The new rate gives Brookside an edge as it is now the highest paying processor in Kenya, after the government directed State-owned New KCC to pay its farmers Sh33 per kilo and gave it US$4.94m to mop up excess milk from farmers and convert it to powder milk which will be stored in strategic reserves for future use.

The price increases also signal a tough fight for the control of Kenya’s raw milk market, estimated to be over 5 billion litres per annum.

Gethi said the firm would continue to procure all milk supplied by its contracted suppliers, in spite of anticipated rise in production following recent rains that improved fodder availability.

Brookside, who have an installed processing capacity of 1.5 million litres of milk per day, operates over 60 raw milk cooling stations in 27 counties.

 “We call on our farmers to increase milk production to benefit from this opportunity with the new price adjustments, which will also enhance their annual reward payout,” said Mr Gethi.

He said the increased producer prices were a show of commitment by the company to strengthen its relationship with the dairy farmers.