ChildFund New Zealand is supporting a dairy factory in Kenya that is providing sustainable incomes to farmers and their families.
At its peak, Masimba Dairy Processing Centre in Emali, a rural and semi-arid area of Kenya, can collect up to 14,000 litres of milk per day. The factory is critical for farmers and their families to get through climate emergencies.
“ChildFund’s Masimba Dairy Processing Centre is as tangible as it gets when it comes to humanitarian and development work,” ChildFund New Zealand CEO Mark Collins says.
“Droughts like the current one highlights the importance of climate-resilient projects like ChildFund’s dairy project in Kenya which supports farmers with climate-smart agriculture practices, training on pasture cultivation and management and baling hay to get farmers through the dry periods.”
The opening of the Masimba Dairy Processing Centre is on the back of a four-year ChildFund agricultural project that has seen the establishment of the Samli Dairy Cooperative of 600 farmers, two milk collection centres and three milk collection points.
“I’ve heard firsthand from farmers and workers at the Masimba Dairy Processing Centre whose lives and the lives of their families have completely changed because of this project, it’s a great example of sustainable, locally-led development work and now ChildFund wants to grow it and do more,” Collins says.
People living in Emali not only face the daily challenges of living in a poor and remote area, but they are vulnerable to drought which can destroy their crops and leave families without food and income. Recently, in the face of serious economic hardship from COVID-19, the project has been even more of a lifeline for farmers through access to improved agricultural and livestock practices and increased market linkages.
The project was funded by the New Zealand Government’s Aid Programme and ChildFund supporters. It started over five years ago when in-country Kenyan colleagues, alongside local farmers, identified the need of improving agriculture practices as a way forward for these communities. During this project, New Zealand and Kenyan farming experts worked with local Maasai farmers to develop a project plan suited to the local environment.
Dairy is strongly linked to the traditional farming practices of Maasai farmers and was one of the two agricultural sectors prioritized in the project. Alongside dairy farming, the superfood, drought-resistant, and versatile crop Moringa has been introduced as a source of income and high nutrition, with extensive training and support given to farmers on how to grow and sell it.
Project initiatives have included training farmers on climate smart agriculture practices to produce animal fodder for the dry seasons; new cattle varieties that produce higher milk yields; extensive training in animal husbandry, basic vet skills and quality control; youth vet clubs to train young people about animal care; along with farm and business management training.
As a result of the project, milk productivity per cow has increased from 4.5 to 5.6 litres with a wastage of under 2%. And households’ monthly incomes more than doubled.
“This dairy project is as much about getting protein from milk and yoghurt into children as it is about sustainable livelihoods for farmers and their families who face daily hardships in this very dry and remote area of Kenya,” Collins says.