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April 19 - 24, 2013


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Pastoralists to engage in dairy
farming to put food on table

more than 15,000 liters of milk is going to waste daily
affecting the livelihood of about 3000 farmers

SPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA Correspondent Robert Manyara

KAPENGURIA (Xinhua) -- When Kapsait milk cooling plant was established in Lelan area West Pokot County in northwest Kenya three years ago it presented an opportunity to the residents to eliminate poverty.

Many locals moved away from keeping traditional cows to dairy breeds to earn income from the plant. For the past years, there have been good returns from the sale of milk delivered to the plant.

The proceeds have enabled many of the pastoralists to send their children to school. Power shortages has hit the milk plant and left farmers to count losses.

“We used to walk to the bank smiling but things have changed. Our milk is going to waste due to lack of power at the plant. We have been forced to feed the milk to the dogs since there is no market,” lamented Solomon Akura.

Most of the residents turned to dairy farming to arrest the ravaging poverty in their families.

“The fall down of the plant will reverse the economic gains we have realized. It calls for urgent intervention from the government,” says County Representative David Moiben.

According to Moiben, more than 15,000 liters of milk is going to waste daily affecting the livelihood of about 3000 farmers.

Since last month, the plant has shut down due to blackouts as a result of heavy rains pounding the area. Besides the blackout, the road to the area has become impassible closing down markets to farmers. Bridges along the Kapenguria-Lelan have been destroyed and washed away by floods.

“Refridged trucks are unable to access the area to collect milk. The road is mud and impassible. We appeal to the Kenya Power to address the blackouts,” Moiben said.

“We are now stranded where to take our milk since the cooling plant is not operational and this is a big loss to farmers,” he said.

Farmers complained that they have been discouraged arguing that the plant had transformed their lives.

“We depended on the milk plant to earn income and we are discouraged from dairy farming. We don’t have any other source of living,” said a farmer John Lonyaung.

Plant manager Philip Ruto said the problem is as a result of a less voltage power that cannot run the chilling plant since the machine require a three phase voltage power instead of the one phase power installed in the area.

Ruto said the problem has been worsened by frequent lightening. “Our operations have been grounded by power failure and we don’t known when the problem will ease,” said Ruto.

West Pokot senator Professor John Lonyangapuo who visited the facility urged the Kenya Power Company to urgently restore the electricity and end the predicaments of the farmers.

He said most of the farmers in the region depend on milk as a source of income and the power failure has jeopardized their efforts to make ends meet. 

“We want the government to put long term measures to solve power problems in the region. This is a big loss to the farmers of this county,” said Lonyangapuo.


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