KENYA – Dairy farmers in Kiambu County, Kenya, are urgently appealing to the national government for intervention to prevent the loss of US$680,000 in World Bank funding earmarked for the purchase of an Ultra Heated Treated (UHT) milk processing machine.
This comes after the World Bank threatened to withdraw its pledged of US$680,000 to partially fund the purchase the milk processing machine that is estimated to cost a total of US$986,000.
The remaining US$306,000 was expected to be contributed by farmers and the Kiambu County Government.
While the Kiambu dairy farmers have collectively raised US$102,000 for the project, the county government has yet to provide the remaining US$204,000 required to complete it.
This delay has resulted in the project stalling, with farmers fearing that further postponement could lead to the withdrawal of the US$680,000 grant from the World Bank.
Bedan Kamau, the manager for Limuru Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, emphasized that the World Bank had set a deadline of December of the previous year for compliance with the agreement’s terms. Kamau expressed concern over the county government’s delay in fulfilling its pledge.
“The machine costs US$986,000 and the WB had already committed to granting us Sh100 million and the farmers have also put aside US$102,000, it is only the county government that is yet to honour its pledge of US$204,000 thereby jeopardising the project,” Kamau noted.
The farmers, hailing from Limuru, Kikuyu, Lari, and Kabete sub-counties, are now urging President William Ruto to intervene since the World Bank funding falls under the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive project, which is overseen by the national government.
Enoch Waciuri, a dairy farmer in Limuru, stressed the importance of the project in saving farmers from selling their milk to middlemen at low prices, as dairy cooperatives currently lack the capacity to handle all the milk produced.
“We are calling upon President Ruto to help ensure the success of this project since it will save us from the middle man who buy our milk at a very low price since the dairy cooperation has no capacity to take all our milk,” he said.
Additionally, MP Kiragu Chege of Limuru echoed these concerns, highlighting the significance of the UHT machine installation in adding value to farmers’ milk and increasing productivity.
He emphasized that dairy farming plays a vital role in the local economy, and the success of the project would greatly benefit smallholder farmers who make up the majority of milk producers in the country.
“Dairy farming is the backbone of our people’s economy and the installation of the UHT machine can add value to our farmers’ milk and increase productivity,” he said.
The project would have boosted the fortunes of the Limuru dairy farmers cooperative which is wholly owned by smallholder farmers who make up about 80% of all milk producers in the country.