Dairy farmers could soon start getting paid based on the quality of milk delivered to processors as opposed to the current system where they are paid depending on the quantity.
“I am encouraged that the concept of implementing Quality Based Milk Payment Systems are beginning to take root in Kenya. Despite the small number of processors who have embraced this option, such as Bio Foods and Happy Cow, I am hopeful that the other processors will also embrace this direction in the near future,” said Kimtai.
Among the parameters that processors will use in the new system is fat content in the milk delivered by the farmers. The system is expected to deal with adulteration where unscrupulous farmers have been known to use water, sugar, fat and even chemicals to boost the amount of milk delivered to processors.
The Quality Based Milk Payment Systems focuses on motivating farmers to produce quality and safe raw milk, providing a direct monetary benefit to farmers.
Speaking during a milk quality and safety seminar, Kimtai said the Government has procured and distributed over 300 milk coolers to dairy farmer groups through the County governments to address the problem of storage.
“Additional 600 milk coolers will also be distributed in the next few years to improve proximity of cooling facilities to dairy farmers. Raw milk should ideally be cooled within two hours of milking and therefore expanding the infrastructure for raw milk cooling is an important step in improving the microbiological quality of raw milk,” said Kimtai.
Kenya Dairy Board Managing Director Margaret Kibogy said the industry, which has 25 licensed processors handling approximately 650 million litres per year, is characterized by milk with high residual levels for aflatoxin and antibiotics.
“There is also lack of screening raw milk, adulteration, use of non-food grade containers and a high bacterial load brought about by the inadequate cold chain in distribution and retail,” said Kibogy.
Kimtai also added that the Government is planning to establish an authority that will have overall responsibility for the safety of food and drugs in the country, similar to the powerful US Food and Drug Administration.
Kenya Food and Drug Authority will comprehensively address food safety and promote domestic and international trade.
“The mechanisms for the establishment of the proposed body are underway,” said Kimtai during a milk quality and safety seminar in Nairobi.