KENYA – Eastern Africa’s largest dairy processing company, Brookside Dairy Limited, has partnered with SunCulture, an off-grid solar technology firm, to provide dairy farmers in Kenya with solar-powered irrigation systems, in a bid to boost milk production.
The targeted beneficiaries of the project are farmers contracted by the processor, who will use the solar powered systems to water their fodder crops using sprinkler irrigation and provide the livestock with reliable drinking water.
This will ensure the utilisation of existing water sources at the farms, with the assurance of year-round availability of the resource which is key in milk production, reports Business Daily.
John Gethi, Brookside’s Director of milk procurement and manufacturing revealed that the company is currently running pilots on the project at its demonstration farms in Uasin Gishu, Nyandarua, Kajiado and Kiambu.
“An adult healthy dairy animal requires between 75 to 80 litres of water daily. Besides maintenance of body temperature, water is important in the digestion of feed and fodder,” Gethi said.
The technology will additionally uplift the social scene for farmers as the installation will also provide energy that will power home appliances and lighting of bulbs.
Mr Gethi said Brookside would continue to aggressively seek climate-smart technology solutions for its farmers to ensure that milk production in the country increases across all milk sheds.
Five years ago, the processor pioneered the use of solar power for heating and lighting at some of its raw milk cooling stations across the country.
Data from Egerton University’s think-tank Tegemeo Institute indicate that over-reliance on rain-fed dairy production is one of the factors hindering the realisation of the full potential of the enterprise in the country, with milk production plummeting during the dry season on reduced water and fodder.
According to the Kenya Dairy Board, the country’s annual milk production is at 5.28 billion litres, produced by 1.8 million smallholder dairy farmers.
Out of the annual production, 600 million litres are formally marketed. The sector has created 1.2 million jobs directly and indirectly.
In 2020, the country was able to process 684 million litres, an increase of 9.5 per cent from 652 million litres in 2019.
Out of the processed milk 62.4 per cent is UHT, pasteurised 25.5 per cent, yoghurt at 6.14 per cent, mala (sour milk) at 3.16 per cent and whole milk powder 0.29 per cent, reports The Star.
Meanwhile, SunCulture recently received a US$11m syndicated debt facility to enable the start-up to scale up renewable energy installations at smallholder farms and households in Africa, mitigating over 20,000 tons of CO2 annually.
The loan was arranged by SunFunder who also contributed to it, alongside a group of other lenders i.e., Triodos Investment Management, Nordic Development Fund, AlphaMundi and the AfDB’s FEI OGEF managed by Lion’s Head.
The acquisition of the facility came in quick succession after the agritech company raised US$14 million from Energy Access Ventures (EAV), Electricité de France (EDF), Acumen Capital Partners (ACP) and Dream Project Incubators (DPI) in December.
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