Dressed in a black cup, a blue T-shirt and a black trouser, the young man fills a plastic bottle with yoghurt, ensuring that it weighs 250ml.
He then moves to the next bottles, working with precision as he seeks to fill about 50 of them placed on a table.
Standing not far away from him is a young woman who picks the filled bottles, and puts a cap on them before they are finally sealed with plastic material.
This is the work that members of Wazo Jema Youth Group, which is based in Ganze at Bamba Trading Centre in Kilifi County, engages in daily.
The group that consists of three women and 10 men adds value to milk, ending up with products that include yoghurt, fresh milk, mala and ghee.
“We started the group 10 of us in 2016 and registered it with the government. Our main aim was to improve the livelihoods of the members and the community at large. Dairy farming is an important way for the community to increase its earnings and access to more nutritious food for families,” says Rashid Jefwa, the chairman of Wazo Jema, adding they are also involved in poultry keeping.
Once they buy milk from farmers, they pasteurise it by boiling it using firewood, what curbs chances of spreading diseases. They then make the value added products that they sell in towns in Kilifi County.
Suleiman Ali, a member of the group, says they have been trained by Vijabiz Project run by Technical Centre for Agricultural Cooperation and Rural Development (CTA) on value addition.
“We now know through value addition, milk becomes more profitable than if sold raw and one creates more employment opportunities through the process,” he says, adding they add value to up to 70 litres daily.
They sell their products through door-to-door marketing, to traders at Bamba trading centre and online via Face book, WhatsApp and YouTube.
“We also visit markets to sell to traders and buyers and before the Covid-19 pandemic, we would sell at school gatherings. Our main targets are individuals, families and traders,” says Jefwa, adding they sale up to 40 litres of various products daily.
A 500ml pack of yoghurt goes at Sh70, 250ml at Sh40 and 150ml at Sh25 while for mala, 500ml goes at Sh50 and 250ml at Sh30 while 1kg of Mozzarella cheese goes at Sh700.
Jane Dzengo, the secretary of the group, says Covid-19 has disrupted business for them since sales have dropped.
“We do feel that it’s because peoples’ spending power has gone down due to lack of steady income. We are now processing sometimes only 20 litres from 70 litres a day.”
Other challenges they grapple with include lack of transport for timely delivery of milk for processing, frequent power outage, lack of pasteuriser, chilling blenders, displaying fridge and low milk volumes.
Noel Kasololo, a project officer with Ustadi Foundation, says they are working with the group so that in five years, they can be a full functioning mini dairy to be able to process up to 5,000 litres of milk per day.