Earlier this week, I woke up to a couple of WhatsApp messages on the proposed Milk Bill 2019. Many of my circles, who happen to be affiliated to agriculture were alarmed at the proposal of the Milk Bill 2019.
The proposed Milk Bill stipulates among other things that;
- Farmers must first pasteurize their milk at farmgate before selling to consumers/neighbors
- In the absence of pasteurization, farmers must take all their milk to a cooling facility
- Dairy produce which is placed on the market or is likely to be placed on the market shall be adequately labeled or identified to facilitate its traceability,” reads part of the regulations.
- All operations and activities along the milk value chain including milking, milk collection, transportation, processing and distribution on which evidence of quality assurance is required to be observed under this Regulations, shall have all such evidence recorded and the records thereof processed and maintained in accordance with this Part.
- Farmers are prohibited from selling their milk to hawkers
- Price of milk from the dairy farmer will be based on quality, not quantity. The buyer will determine the quality
- Farmers will be held criminally liable should their milk have contaminants like aflatoxins.
- A farmer will sell his milk to only one processor with whom he has a contract
- Processors are free to import milk at any time there is no enough milk from the local market. They will determine when the milk is not enough.
- A fine of Ksh 500,000 will be slapped on farmers flouting the rules
What does this mean?
In a country where smallholder dairy farmers make up to 80% of total dairy producers and produce 56% of total milk in Kenya, then it would be in order to say that this bill is meant to curb their activities whether one is a zero grazing farmer owning one cow, or a open grazing farmer owning multiple number of cows.
The dairy sector in Kenya has its own share of challenges.Low productivity, inadequate milk capacity to meet the current demands, logistical and technological and policy constraints too.
We are in agreement that the dairy industry does need to be controlled but setting out the rules and not bearing in mind who they will affect is a big slip on the end.
I agree with the need for regulations but they need to be done in a systematic way taking into account the issues of all the concerned persons along the milk value chain. To penalize the farmers for low quality of the milk that comes as a result of the feeds to the suppliers makes no sense. Where is the farmer taking the blame at the end of it all? When it comes to the livestock feeds, the suppliers chain determines the quality and the prices of the feeds which means they are best placed to determine the non issues on the feed. How is a small scale farmers supposed to determine the aflatoxins concentrations in his maize feeds? Does the farmer even have the necessary mechanisms and tools to help identify the ppb levels in the maize feeds? You tell me?
If the buyer has the right to determine the milk quality so who would farmers then go ahead with dairy farming? And if the processor gets the right to import to reach the required levels, what will that do to the local dairy industry as it takes on the glut from other countries
This country does tire me at times but I am glad that the collective power of Kenyan’s on Twitter has resulted to them suspending the bill (which initially they said didn’t exist) until further consultations are done.
We will be waiting!