The government has begun disbursing Sh500 million payment to dairy farmers who had shares in the Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) before it went under 20 years ago.
Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday disbursed cheques worth Sh58 million to dairy farmers from Nyeri, Laikipia, Kajiado, Meru, Embu, Kirinyaga and Murang’a counties.
“As a government we recognise that dairy sector is the largest agricultural enterprise in the country with over Sh1.8 billion people relying on the industry which is worth more than Sh160 billion,” said the DP.
“Farmers who were affected have patiently been waiting for their dues for the last 10 years. It was rather unfortunate that though they delivered their produce they did not get paid,” he added.
He spoke Thursday at Chaka in Nyeri County where he was accompanied by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Willy Bett, Industrialisation CS Adan Mohamed and local leaders including Nyeri Governor Samwel Wamathai and Senator Mutahi Kagwe.
The DP said all New KCC factories would receive funds to upgrade their facilities in an expansion and modernisation plan.
He announced that among the eight New KCC factories in the country, Kiganjo factory in Nyeri would receive Sh130 million to produce condensed milk after purchase of upgraded equipment.
“We intend to produce instant powdered milk at the New KCC factory so that we can preserve the product for longer as well as increase the farmers’ earnings,” he said.
Mr Ruto also ordered the New KCC management to ensure their payments to farmers remain at par with other competitors in the sector.
Mr Mohamed said the annual turnover for New KCC increased from Sh6.5 billion last year to Sh12 billion this year.
“KCC is performing better, more than any other government parastatal though it is facing stiff competition from private companies,” he said.
He said even during drought, there is enough milk and powder sufficient for all Kenyans.
“We have set aside Sh1.2 billion to ensure Kenyans do not lack milk countrywide,” he said.
The company’s MD Nixon Sigey said they had a plan to modernise its operations so as to expand its business to the global market.
Agriculture CS Bett said Sh400 million has been set aside to fund the Strategic Food Reserve to enable milk processors purchase surplus milk and produce powdered milk.
The fund is an increase from Sh300 million in the last financial year.