Implementing an All-Year-Round Fodder Availability Model


Written by Emmanuel Kibet, Project Lead, and Ken Opondo, Cooperative Advisor, Acting Now Kenya

Life as a dairy farmer in Kenya comes with its challenges, and one big problem is not having enough food for your cows all year round. When the rains don't come, grass and crops dry up, and cows suffer. This means less milk, less money, and less food for our families.

To address the challenge of feed in Kenya's dairy industry, a groundbreaking initiative is reshaping the landscape for smallholder farmers. The Acting Now for Food Security and Resilient Food Systems project, spearheaded by Agriterra and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, is revolutionising the dairy value chain. At its core lies a commitment to sustainability, innovation, and empowerment.

In Kenya's dairy value chain, seasonal fluctuations in rainfall directly impact fodder availability, leading to erratic milk production and high production costs for farmers and cooperatives. To tackle this issue head-on, the Acting Now project is supporting six dairy cooperatives, with a focus on those situated in arid and semi-arid regions like Kajiado and Baringo. These cooperatives are being empowered to innovate and adopt best practices in feeding and fodder management, thereby ensuring a steady supply of milk throughout the year. Early results can be seen through the implementation of an all-year-round fodder availability model. 

In 2023, the project piloted a two-tier approach, empowering dairy cooperatives to establish centralised fodder production farms while also investing in the accessibility of various fodder varieties at local agrovets. Through targeted training and strategic partnerships, the project aimed to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality fodder, even during the dry seasons.

The initial results are very promising. Dairy cooperatives like Mumberes and Sabatia have seen a tremendous increase in silage production and storage. Mumberes Dairy, for instance, stockpiled a remarkable 1,020 tons of silage across its region, in addition to 240 tons of centrally produced maize silage.

However, the impact extends beyond mere numbers. Lessons learned from this initiative underscore the transformative power of cooperative systems in promoting sustainable practices. Leveraging check-off systems within cooperatives has proven instrumental in ensuring widespread access to quality inputs. Continuous training of extension staff has been key, with organisations like Pro-Dairy playing a key role, in embedding crucial knowledge within cooperative systems.

Yet, challenges persist. The quality of fodder and feeds remains a focal point for improvement, alongside the need for ongoing investment in mechanisation and production systems. Nonetheless, the potential for growth and innovation is undeniable.

The commercialisation of fodder production not only addresses immediate challenges but also unlocks vast opportunities for dairy cooperatives and their smallholder members. In a groundbreaking move, one cooperative has even inked an agreement with Bio-Foods to supply milk based on a quality-based payment system, signalling a shift towards value-driven partnerships.

As the project continues to unfold, the vision of resilient food systems and enhanced food security comes into sharper focus. By supporting dairy cooperatives in their journey towards sustainable practices and year-round fodder availability, Agriterra and its partners are paving the way for a brighter future for Kenyan farmers and their communities. Together, they are not just acting now but building a legacy of prosperity and resilience for generations to come.


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