The government has urged dairy farmers to form cooperatives to benefit from larger market access and improved income.

Cooperatives and Micro and Small Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the government has avenues to assist farmers but the lack of proper structures has delayed such processes.

By joining the cooperative movement, Chelugui said this will offer small agricultural producers opportunities and a wide range of services, including improved access to markets, natural resources, information, communications, technologies, credit, training and warehouses.

“State initiatives through the Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE), Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and Uwezo Fund among others support cooperatives formed by women and youth groups with start-ups and micro businesses will broaden their opportunities and boost their competitiveness that will eventually generate jobs, increase incomes and productivity,” he said.

He said that well managed cooperatives have the capacity to address weak market frameworks, shortage of agricultural extension services, and unavailability of certified seeds and expansion of storage facilities to mitigate post-harvest losses.

“Co-operatives form a key cog that turns the wheels of the dairy industry in Kenya. Through bulking, co-operatives have been able to reduce the cost of milk marketing and enabled farmers to realize higher returns through provision of a reliable and remunerative outlet for milk,” stated the CS.

The Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) says it is banking on a cooperative model to eliminate brokers and milk transporters in the dairy sector who profiteer from dairy farmers’ sweat. The plan will see farmers invest in dairy infrastructure and directly engage processors.

The state is formulating new policies and governance structures to increase the production of milk from 4.6 billion to 10 billion litres annually considering it generates 5pc of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

By Fred Odanga Azelwa.