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KILIFI (Xinhua) -- Residents await for the distribution of relief food at Bamba village in Kilifi County. The residents are facing an acute shortage of food and clean water due to prolonged drought in the area. XINHUA PHOTO - ALLAN MUTISO

Kenyan dairy farmers urge reinstatement
of extension services to boost output

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan small-scale dairy farmers on Thursday appealed for the reinstatement of extension services to boost the sector’s performance.

Elisha Watuti, spokesperson of a lobby for small-scale dairy farmers, said that extension services, which were scrapped by the government in 1989 following structural adjustment programs that was imposed by the World Bank, should be reinstated to revitalize growth of the critical sector.

"Lack of extension service is amongst several challenges that are affecting the dairy sector," Watuti told journalists in Nairobi.

He noted that smallholder farmers are unable to reach the milk coolers due to poor road network and also face high cost of cattle feeds and dewormers.

"Cheap dairy products from the neighboring countries are threatening production from farmers since animal feed and drugs to treat worms and diseases are expensive in Kenya at the moment," said Watuti.

He said farmers have supported the government’s proposed changes in the sector in regard to ensuring that fresh and clean milk are sold to the public.

Dairy products in the country can become competitive once the inputs are zero-rated by the government, Watuti said.

"We need structured standards in the sector to enable us export dairy products to the regional and international market and earn reasonable money," he said.

Eric Marete, a dairy farmer from a Nairobi suburb, said local farmers produce 80 percent of milk in Kenya and that they need required interventions.

Smallholder dairy farmers are currently making losses due to challenges that have forced some of them to shift to other ventures, he said.

Marete called on the government to ensure that cooling plants are constructed within reach to prevent milk from getting spoiled.


Farmers urge Kenya to review policies to boost horticultural sector

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s fresh produce farmers on Wednesday called on the government to provide a conducive business environment to help make the horticultural sector competitive.

The Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO Okisegere Ojepat said the sector has faced stringent and lengthy clearance processes, multiple taxations and levies, high energy costs, and trade restrictions, which has made Kenyan horticultural products less competitive in the regional and international markets.

"The sector has been adversely hit by the imposition of the 16 percent VAT on pest control products, among other unfavorable conditions, which has made our products more expensive even in the east African region," Ojepat said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"We are lamenting about cheap imports from the neighboring countries like Uganda but we are not asking ourselves how Ugandans are able to produce these goods cheaply," Ojepat said during the launch of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya 2019-2024 Strategic Plan in Nairobi.

He said the six-year Strategic Plan would address several other issues affecting the horticultural sector including product safety issues and coalition building to ensure that various organizations work towards a common goal.

The consortium has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with several organizations including the Nairobi chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and International Trade Centre through SheTrades to help it address the issues related to trade in horticultural products, both locally and internationally.

Ojepat said the consortium is keen to have matters that hinder trade in the horticultural sector addressed urgently.

"We are keen on ensuring there is market access to products and also that the final products traded locally and globally meet the safety standard," he said.

Kenya’s earnings from fresh produce exports in 2018 jumped to 153.68 billion shillings (1.53 billion U.S. dollars), a 33 percent increase over 2017 earnings, according to statistics from the industry.



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