West Pokot county has set up a multi –million milk processing plant at Lelan area to boost milk production in the region.
The county has the potential to produce over 50,000 liters of milk daily with over 6,000 dairy farmers in Lelan area, Pokot south sub-county who will benefit from the new venture. The more than Kshs 200 million shillings plant will improve the economy of the area.
Speaking yesterday while presiding over laying the foundation stone for the construction of a milk Processing plant at Kabichbich in Pokot South, area Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo said that value addition is a key component of his manifesto as it aids in stimulating the economy for immense growth.
Lonyangapuo said the County Government is sourcing machinery from Israel. The governor said the county is famous for milk with high fat content and has huge potential.
“The county’s livestock breeds improvement programme started in 2018 comes in handy in ensuring sustainability of the project through increased productivity. Lelan and Tapach wards are famed for milk with the highest fat content in Kenya and this factory will exploit this through products not limited to cheese and butter,” he said.
He pointed out that there are over 25 milk cooling plants in Pokot South among them Kabichbich, Chepkono, Kipat, Ringring, Chesupet and Kaptabuk.
“We shall sell milk to major towns like Nairobi. and neighboring counties. We are also targeting dairy farmers for capacity building to equip them with modern practices, ’he said.
“This is the biggest milk plant in the whole North West Kenya and we shall compete with KCC. Our milk has the highest fat content ,give them a run of their money,” said Lonyangapuo.
“Many cooperatives will be formed and a training institute on how to make geese and yoghurt. Our production increases during the rainy season but most farmers are unable to deliver their produce on time to the cooling plant due to poor road network,” he said.
He said the county had also embarked on improving breeds to increase production.
“Farmers from the region have been exploited by middlemen for a long time. Farmers in this region cannot set the price of the milk. The decision is left in the hands of middlemen,” Lonyangapuo said.
The county boss said the plant will help reduce poverty by increasing incomes at household level because it creates employment to residents.
“He said initially the major challenge we’re facing is poor road network but now as a new road has been set up. We don’t want the factory to lack supply of milk; that’s why since last financial year we embarked on improving our breeds.,” he said.
Agriculture and Pastoral Economy County Executive Member Mr. Geoffrey Lipale said that Lelan area produces 12,000 Liters per day and sold in Sigor, Turkana and Eldoret.
“We aim to stabilize the price which is currently at Ksh.32 per liter,” he said.
Lipale added that the plant will help end cases of cattle rustling in the county.
“The plant will also offer employment to our youths who are idle and reduce outdated cultural practices. We want to shun pastoralism and engage in modern farming,” he said.
He noted that they are targeting more than 30,000 liters of milk per day.
“Livestock production contributes to 70% of the GDP of West Pokot. Everyone should have one or two cows in the homestead,” he said.
He also cited challenges of the little use of Artificial Insemination [AI] thus little milk. A dairy farmer Mr. Solomon Kura lauded the county government for the venture citing that they were faced with a lot of challenges.