Nairobi — The improved market for milk has raised the demand for quality dairy cows, especially in Nakuru District where the prices have shot up over the past two years.
Livestock breeders in Nakuru told the Nation that they had been receiving enquiries from farmers in far-flung places such as Thika, Embu, Machakos, Nyeri, Kiambu, Nyandarua and Murang'a districts.
A breeder, Mr James Karanja of Pokea Farm, Njoro, said the few people who had been breeding animals for sale, could not satisfy the local demand.
Mr Karanja, a director of the Kenya Dairy Board, said prices had risen in Rift Valley province as a whole.
Nakuru farms, which have been breeding animals for sale include Ng'era Fancy, Deneside, Thenge-ini, Kinana and Manera.
An official of the Kenya Holstein-Friesian Cattle Society, Mr Joseph Ng'era, said the prime dairy cattle were found mostly in Nakuru and Uasin Gishu districts.
A stable milk market
The revival of the Kenya Cooperative Creameries, now New KCC, and other milk processors had provided a stable market for milk, whose prices had also shot up, they added.
In separate interviews with the Nation, they said the Government had taken action against owners of private processing firms who had not paid their suppliers in time.
But they noted that all the 34 registered companies were paying farmers promptly.
"KDB has not received any complaints from farmers on delayed payments over the past two years," Mr Karanja said.
"The board has also directed processors who have accumulated farmers' arrears to clear them before their licences are renewed."
He pointed out that milk deliveries to the major processors across the country had gone up over the past few months.
During July, August and September, he said, New KCC received 9.4 million litres, Brookside 5 million and Spin Knit 3 million.
The dairy sub-sector recorded a 38 per cent growth last year which, he noted, showed that the industry was recovering.
Mr Ng'era, an official of the Kenya Livestock Breeders Organisation, said the growth had encouraged farmers to register their animals with the Kenya Stud Book and the Dairy Recording Services of Kenya.
A grade cow, he said, was selling for between Sh35,000 and Sh60,000, while a pedigree one was fetching from Sh80,000 to Sh120,000.
A pedigree Friesian was selling for between Sh100,000 and Sh130,000 and a pure Ayrshire from Sh40,000 to Sh85,000.
A quality grade cow was going for about Sh35,000.
Mr Ng'era said a company that used to make aluminium milk cans at a Kenya Industrial Estates yard in Nakuru had collapsed.
"Now farmers whose cans have broken handles or those without lids can't be repaired or have their lids replaced," he said.
He urged the Government to have New KCC stabilise milk prices to enable farmers to plan their development.
"Farmers with bank loans are inconvenienced whenever New KCC lowers its milk prices," he said.
"Farmers can only get motivated to engage in production if they are in a position to predict their income over a long period of time."