KENYA – The Kenyan government has initiated phase three of the modernization and upgrading of New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) plants nationwide.

Cooperatives and MSMEs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Simon Chelugui has identified several plants for modernization in 2023, including Runyenjes in Embu, Narok, Mogotio, and Kabianga.

According to CS Chelugui, one of the key aspects of this modernization program is the enhancement of machinery in Miritini, Mombasa, to convert powdered milk into liquid suitable for the export market.

During an inspection tour of the New KCC Runyenjes Milk Cooling Plant in Embu, CS Chelugui announced that approximately Sh. 700 million has been allocated to transform the plant into a processing facility.

He stressed the importance of encouraging local farmers to increase the supply of raw milk to support this development.

“If we want to improve milk farming in Embu, we must expand this project and ask our farmers to reciprocate with an increase in supply of raw milk,” he said.

“In the initial phase of the modernization program, Kiganjo, Nyambene, and Nyahururu plants were expanded and upgraded.”

The initiatives involved installing state-of-the-art equipment for value addition and increasing processing capacity, intending to boost farmers’ earnings.

Addressing the issue of delayed payments to farmers, CS Chelugui stated that discussions have begun with all 35 processors, led by the President, to regularize payment schedules.

“We will soon make a national announcement that will compel all milk processors to pay farmers on an appointed date, whether they have received money or not.”

He expressed a commitment to finding ways to address the cost of production, which directly affects farmers’ returns.

Chelugui noted that given that many farmers are subsistence farmers with limited access to fodder, the government plans to explore the use of government-owned lands, including those owned by entities like Kengen, Tarda, ADC, and prisons, to cultivate animal fodder.

This would be sold to milk processors at a reduced cost, which, in turn, would help reduce the overall cost of milk production for farmers.

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire and local leaders welcomed the upgrade of the milk cooling plant in Runyenjes.

She highlighted the potential of the upgraded facility to support her program of providing free milk to all 17,000 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) learners in the county at a reduced cost.

“The annual milk production in the county is estimated at 77.3 million litres, with an average return of Sh3.9 billion,” she said.

To further boost production, the governor stressed the importance of proper animal husbandry and extension services to increase milk yields per cow.