Dairy farmers in Nyandarua, Laikipia, Nakuru and Baringo counties who were owed by the former Kenya Cooperative Creameries have received cheques worth Sh116 million for settlement of their arrears.
Deputy President William Ruto was in Nyahururu on Thursday where he issued the cheques to the affected groups, as he declared war on middlemen in the dairy sector.
The payment is part of Sh500 million that the government has released for 18,000 dairy farmers who were owed by the former KCC which went under 18 years ago.
The beneficiaries fall under the Nyahururu cluster which comprises dairy farmers from Laikipia, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Naivasha, Eldama Ravine and Molo.
Speaking at Nyahururu stadium, the DP urged farmers to join cooperative movements to reduce bureaucracy and remove avenues that make it easy for middlemen to operate.
“Let us have a plan to ensure the whole amount of Sh40 paid by KCC reaches the farmer. Why is the farmer getting Sh28? Where does the Sh12 go to and who is this person in between collecting money yet he does not rear any dairy animals,” the DP posed.
“We must eliminate all brokers. You find someone has a number at KCC yet has no stock. We don’t want anybody to take advantage of the farmers,” he said.
Laikipia will also receive 27 milk cooling plants by May according to the DP, and local leaders will help identify where they will be stationed.
He was accompanied by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Willy Bett, Industrialisation CS Mr Adan Mohamed, Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu, Senator Godfrey Kariuki, MPs Dr Wachira Karani (Laikipia West), Mr Mutahi Kimaru (Laikipia East), Woman Rep Jane Apollos, several aspirants for various seats among other local leaders.
The DP said the government has also released Sh1 billion for modernisation of equipment at all factories at the new KCC to improve their capacity.
A further Sh700 million has been set aside for production of milk powder during milk glut seasons, under the strategic food reserve programme.
Kenya Dairy Board chairman Mr Matu Wamae noted that the country has a potential to increase its milk production capacity, if farmers invest in quality feeds.
He said dairy farming is a significant sector whose annual contribution is estimated at Sh150 billion, if one litre is sold for Sh30.