Happy New Year! Well, we are almost a full month into our new year and hopefully you are getting used to writing 2015. As you would know for any Kenyan farmer after the festive season in December, January and the better part of the first quarter becomes a hard and busy period for those who keep animals since the weather now has taken its toll on most of the vegetation and what would otherwise be easy pickings for the cattle is now a hard day’s work 3-4 times in a week
In our part of the world, where agricultural activities are still heavily dependent on weather patterns, unpredictable weather patterns may mean less fresh feeds for the cows and unforeseen milk shortages. Talking of shortages, a colleague of mine actually went to one of the largest super markets last night looking for milk, and to his astonishment that there was not even one packet of milk from the many companies that swarm the supermarket. Due to deforestation and poor farming practices, it requires proper planning for emergencies and contingent measures. So I am sure dairy farmers are looking forward to wrapping up January and February as it presents a last chance to redeem yourself as a farmer during the long rains which usually come around March-May/June.
With milk processing firms and TV adverts urging people to consume more milk, most farmers will applaud this but the tough job would be how to sustain the production and consumption amidst changing weather and feeding patterns in and around the region. According to an article appearing in the East African, Kenyans remain the highest consumers of milk in East African region. This is a fact since tea passes easily as Kenya’s social drink unlike in some countries such as Tanzania, black tea or coffee is common.
To sustain the milk production there are issues which need to be addressed and they include:
- Expensive fees and supplements
- Unpredictable weather pattern which means less feeds and unforeseen shortage, hence the need for proper planning for emergencies and contingent measures.
- Poor infrastructure-this relates to roads meant to access dairy farms
- Delayed payment –this irks many farmers that upon delivery payment is delayed
Diversity in feeds-Exploring hardy fodder that can be used to supplement the traditional Napier grass, hay and other grasses.
Trees, trees, trees-yes our science teachers were right on this that trees attract rain. Trees provide shaded areas which can ensure the farmland take longer to dry and thus support more fodder.
Regular road maintenance by the government
Innovative mobile payments-with the mobile payment platform among others recently innovated, payment of milk should be prompt. This goes a long way in encouraging delivery and consistency of the same.