How greed of middlemen helped build dairy cooperative

SACCO

In 2009 when dairy farmers in Elburgon ward in Molo Sub-county came together with an idea of collecting milk daily as a group, they had no idea the group would one day give birth to a colossal cooperative Society.

The less than 100 dairy farmers had only one reason for coming together: to collect milk and sell to a single buyer and square the exploitative middlemen.

They were tired of the brokers, who sometimes even refused to pay them the little they promised.

Considering the cost of feeds, they were alarmed that they would soon be impoverished as their production dropped slowly as the middlemen milked them dry.

That is how the Elburgon Progressive Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society was formed.

Its chairperson Johnstone Sang narrates how they gradually made steps within a few years to become Nakuru County’s third most well-managed Sacco. They have a trophy that proudly proclaims this.

He said the group grew as more dairy farmers around Molo Sub-county joined, pushing away the divisive and uncompromising brokers.

Sang said the majority of them are small scale farmers who have a common goal of ensuring they grow together economically, leaving no member behind.

During the initial stages, he said, they were able to collect 700 litres of milk per day, with some supplying up to thrice each day.

SACCO
Cooperative Chair Johnstone Sang (R) with Manager Daniel Kiptum pose next to the cooperative Society’s 10,000 litre milk cooler.

“We all worked hard until 2017 when we were able to buy land  and set up a cooler at Karinga in Elburgon Ward where our offices are situated,” said Sang.

He said that in the same year, their toil paid off when Micro Enterprise Support Program Trust (MESPT) agreed to partner with them to purchase a 5,000 litre cooler, solar panels and other cooling accessories.

Later in 2019, MESPT would give them a loan on a low interest rate to purchase a 10,000 litre milk tanker.

“The tanker boosted our Cooperative activities because it enabled us to store our milk safely before selling,”said Sang.

He also revealed that in 2020, they secured another partnership with an NGO known as NARIGP through the county and national governments that assisted in mobilizing and sensitizing farmers on the need to come together.

He added that in 2021, NARIGP enabled them to purchase a tractor, silage chopper, grinder/mixer, disk plough, 18-disk harrow, high-sided trailer, laboratory equipment, as well as lease land to plant fodder. They were also able to build a feed centre for animal feed formulations.

Now they are able to offer essential services to farmers to improve milk production, including provision of animal health and agrovet services, transportation and purchase of farm inputs. They also hire out machinery like baler, tractor and silage chopper, as well as facilitating extension services through their extension officers. Those in dire need are given cash advances.

The chairperson said that currently, the Cooperative collects an average of 13,000 litres of milk from 1,400 farmers around their catchment areas.

“We have managed to open new satellite offices at Muchorwe Ward in Kuresoi North and Chandera in Turi Ward of Molo Sub-county,” said Sang.

Their mission for 2023 is to hit 20,000 litres per day and 2,000 farmers; and it is possible as they have a dedicated manager Daniel Kiptum and an astute team of extension officers.

By Peter Otuoro

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