Here at Nuru Kenya Social Enterprises (NKSE) there is a pretty big event looming on the horizon, and by big it weighs in at 450-500 KGs apiece and eats approximately 70 KGs of dry grass matter each day. The Nuru Dairy is preparing to welcome 5 cows with prestigious pedigrees to start producing high quality milk for the Kuria markets. In this first phase, Nuru Dairy will begin establishing a brand for both exceptional products and commence operation as a center for dairy excellence that performs farmer trainings on technical expertise for livestock management. The second phase of the business will be to provide access for farmers to dairy cow breeds with high milk production capabilities and move into value added products such as cheese and yogurt production.
In rural Kenya, milk prices are higher than in cities due to the supply and demand of quality milk. Most milk is watered down, unpasteurized, exposed to harmful pathogens, and has very little nutrition. NKSE believes it can improve dairy production in the region by producing dairy products for direct sale to the local market as well as offering farmers’ access to dairy breeds with high milk.
Knowing that running a successful dairy involves considerable expertise in cow health, feed growing, and processing, NKSE has invested in hiring Godfrey Otieno, a dairy expert who has over 27 years of experience and is well versed in the national dairy sector, runs NKSE’s dairy business. For the past eight years, he has helped build and develop dairy operations in Malawi and Kenya working with the national and regional dairy farmers associations. In addition, Godfrey acquired extensive public sector experience while serving for over 14 years as a District Dairy Development Officer for the Ministry of Livestock Development. Godfrey is support by two seasoned dairy attendants Elisabeth Maroa and Felix Lumiti, who have experience in dairy cow health management and milk processing.
There is a lot to do to make sure that Nuru Dairy is a success and it starts by establishing the right environment. Milk production is 30% genetics of the cow and 70% environment, which means that there is significant time put into establishing the ultimate cow living space. NKSE has developed a state of the art dairy operation that lives up to international quality and production standards while utilizing local dairy shed design and local building materials to keep costs low and have a model that farmers can emulate in their own shed construction.
The shed was constructed over a period of three weeks and due to lack of available mechanized building equipment in rural Kenya was built entirely by hand, including the excavation of the building site and the large rock breaking and removal. Seeing this type of construction through western eyes really showed a different perspective about what it takes to get a job done and the incredible ingenuity, skills and shear strength of the laborers on the ground here in Isebania.