The Kirinyaga County government has set aside Sh58 million to empower dairy farmers in the region this year.
The money will be used for buying milk processing equipment, power backup generators and a milk tanker besides supporting artificial insemination (AI) services.
According to Governor Anne Waiguru, 62 dairy farmers' groups will be supported to improve cattle breeds through AI services and on-farm feed formation and silage making.
The project, which is being implemented through a partnership between the county and the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), will impact about 1,550 households.
Improving the county's cattle breeds, which will be done in collaboration with the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC), will enhance milk production and ensure that dairy cattle have a stronger immune system.
Increase milk production
"The ultimate goal of this programme is to ensure that farmers increase their milk production and get more value from it so that they can uplift their living standards," said Governor Waiguru.
Ms Waiguru noted that the county is aiming at increasing milk production from the current daily average of four litres per farmer to about 13 litres, which she said will be made possible through improvement of the existing cattle breeds.
The governor added that from the funds, Sh27.5 million will go into installation of semi-automated yoghurt production units for Rung'eto and Kirima dairy farmers' cooperative societies and installation of a power backup generator for Podago Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society.
She said that the yoghurt production equipment will have the capacity of processing about 500 litres daily, which will go a long way in ensuring that farmers add value to their milk for better returns.
The electricity generator will ensure seamless operations for the beneficiaries in the event of power failure.
Kirima Dairy Cooperative Society Manager Beth Kariuki said that the support will go a long way in enhancing the group's productivity.
Yoghurt production unit
She said that once they get the yoghurt production unit, they will upscale their yoghurt production to commercial levels.
Currently, the society has a manual yoghurt production equipment which can only produce a maximum of 100 litres per day, which is just enough for local consumption.
The manager said that the equipment will enable them add value to their milk, which will in turn translate to better earnings for the farmers.
"Improved returns will act as an incentive to farmers and make them add more dairy cattle to increase milk production for more income," Ms Kariuki said.
Governor Waiguru said that in the last three years, the Kirinyaga County government has supported the dairy sector through installation of milk coolers as well as offering the required technical extension services to farmers.