KENYA – Dairy farmers in Kenya risk losing out on a KES150 million (US$1.2m) dairy value addition project if their county government does not keep its end of the bargain.
The World Bank had pledged to provide KES 100 million to partially fund the purchase of an Ultra Heated Treated (UHT) milk processing machine, for the Limuru Milk Processing plant.
The remaining KES 50 million was to be raised by the farmers and the Kiambu County Government.
The Kiambu dairy farmers have collectively contributed KES15 million (US$121,065) towards the project.
The county government however yet to provide the remaining KES30 million(US$242,130) necessary to complete the project.
The project has now stalled and farmers fear that its further delay may prompt the World Bank to withdraw its KES100 million grant.
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.
These farmers account for 56% of the total national output and projects like this have a tremendous impact on their livelihoods.
The farmers from Limuru, Kikuu, Lari and Kabete sub-counties are pleading with His Excellency president William Ruto to intervene.
According to Bedan Kamau, manager of the Limuru Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, the World Bank had given the facility management a deadline of December last year to have complied with the terms of the agreement.
The local leaders however sought an extension of the deadline to give the county government more time to honour its word.
“The governor promised to write a formal letter to the donor seeking an extension but we are reliably told that he is yet to do it and our fear is that the money will be withdrawn unless prompt measures are taken,” said Bedan Kamau.
People Daily reported that further investigation established that no letter of extension had been written to the world bank.
The facility’s management together with a host of the Members of the county had previously met with the governor at the county headquarters and he assured them that the money will be available.
Kiragu Chege, the MP of Limuru commented that the delay is worrisome as he confirmed that the World Bank will withdraw its support and kill the project thereby exposing farmers to poverty.
“Dairy farming is the backbone of our people’s economy and the installation of the UHT machine can add value to farmers’ milk and increase productivity, ” he said.
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