The cow gazes into space chewing the cud as a youngwoman, a member of Milimet Taunet Youth Group based in Keringet, Nakuru County, milks it with great speed and precision.
Soon, the exercise is over and the Friesian animal is happy to have released themilk. It leaves the crush to give space to another animal.
The milk later ends up ata shop run by the group in Keringet, where it is sold.
“We are 14 members, nine women and five men. We started in 2013 as a merry-go-round group where we would collect money and share. In 2015, we started to lease land and plant various crops like potatoes garden peas and wheat,” Kenneth Kiprono, the chairman, tells Mkulima Young.
In 2017, the members realised that they were not making profit in crop farming due to so many challenges in the potato sector likeunfavourableweather, high production costs, fluctuation of prices and unstandardized packaging.
“We, therefore, switched to dairy farming, purchasing cows to be managed by each member. Our target is to have 14 cows so that each of us can keep one,” says Kiprono, adding so far, they have purchased 11.
In 2019, the group ventured into milk aggregation, where they bought the produce from otherfarmers in the community and sold to a cooperative society.
“But this was not very profitable. We have now opened our shopnamed Milta at Keringet centre where we sell our milk at a higher price compared to that offered by the cooperative,” says Kiprono.
They currently sell raw milkonly, buy they intend to start pasteurizing since they have acquired a cooler and the machine to do the job.
“We sell our products through the milk shop and also supply to hotels and residents and we have now moved to online through Mkulima Young. But immediately we start pasteurization, which we are awaiting licences from the dairy board, we will go for a bigger market.”
The group currently milks 30litresfrom theirfour lactating cows and purchases at least 40from the community every day.
“Since we own a chilling machine, we are able to supply 200litres of milk in a day. We sell the raw milk at Sh45 per litre while pasteurised milk will go at Sh60 per litre,” says Kiprono, adding they are working on buying milk testing kits to enhance quality.
Amocha Marigwa, the secretary, says working in a group has benefitted them greatly.
“As an individual, you cannot access government or donors’ help but through group, we have achieved that,” says Marigwa.
Covid-19 has disrupted business for them since orders from schools stopped and from hotels declined.
“In February, we had an order of raw milk from a nearby school. We supplied for three days and then schools were closed,”Joan Kosgei, the treasurer, says.
Apart from the global challenge, livestock diseases, lack of feeds and fluctuations of milk prices are some of the other challenges they have to grapple with.
“But we got training from Vijabiz thus we are now able to conserve feeds by making silage which cushions us.”
MorganSiguda, a project officer with Vijabizin Nakuru County says the group is on growth path as they have a good vision as they seek to move to value addition.