The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: State to Spend Sh1.4 Billion On New School Milk Plan

The government has set aside Sh1.4 billion to roll out the relaunched school milk feeding programme. The programme has already been initiated on a pilot basis in Uasin Gishu and Nakuru counties where 18 rural primary schools will be the first to benefit. It will then be rolled out to nine other counties before being expanded to primary schools countrywide.

Minister for Livestock Muhammed Kuti said the school feeding programme will help the government boost enrollment in schools and improve the health of children. "We intend to strengthen the programme and ensure it covers most parts of the country within the shortest time possible", said Kuti in a speech during the launch at Sugoi Primary School in Eldoret North.

The International Fund for Agricultural Developement will finance the project through the Small Holder Dairy Commercialisation Programme under the Ministry of Health. The project will boost production among small scale dairy farmers who will sell their milk to the implementers of the project. It will be jointly undertaken by the Kenya Co-operative Creameries, Kenya Dairy Board, and the ministry.

Kuti's speech was read by PS Kenneth Lusaka. He said the school feeding programme will greatly benefit children especially those in arid areas where famine has been a major challenge that causing pupils to drop out of school. "The project is very important for both the producers who are dairy farmers because they will sell their produce and also for the consumers who are the school children and will improve their health along with their capacity to remain in school and learn," said Lusaka.

He said the livestock sector is important for the country and the government will explore all ways to help farmers earn more from their activities. Three MPs attended the function in Eldoret North including area MP William Ruto, Mosop MP David Koech and Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui. "The revival of the school feeding programme is important and should be extended to cover most areas because there are many children from poor families who drop out of schools just because they can not get a meal," said Ruto.

He said the revival of the programme would also help small scale farmers improve production because they would have a ready market. The MPs said the government should increase funding to all agricultural sectors.

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