In Kenya, the dairy industry is vital for the livelihoods and food security of millions of people.
A co-operative of small-scale, pasture-based dairy farmers is helping the people of Kenya to raise productivity, improve livelihoods, increase food security and provide good health and welfare for their animals.
Cows contribute more than milk
Almost two million small-scale farmers in Kenya depend on dairy production for their livelihoods and food security. Small-scale farmers are the backbone of the dairy sector, delivering 80 per cent of all milk in the country.
Milk isn’t just important for income and nutrition – dairy cattle also provide manure, marketable products like calves and beef, and other benefits like financial security and social status. So animal wellbeing is vital for both animals AND people.
Taking care of business
Lessos Livestock Breeding Network Dairies Limited (LELBREN), a co-operative in the highlands of the Rift Valley Province, is helping pasture-based dairy farmers to increase their profits and provide for their families through membership and services like advice on ensuring animals remain healthy and are well cared for.
Profits made by the co-operative are then redistributed to members, who are also given opportunities to have their say about the operation and management of the initiative.
Importantly, LELBREN has over 300 female members who are involved in decision making for the future of the co-operative. The growing membership is amounting in more business opportunities from local service providers – boosting economic development in the region.
In addition to extra support and services, members of LELBREN also receive a premium price for their milk from the milk processing plant- quite a lot more than they would get selling their milk on the open market.
Animals, people and the planet
LELBREN also focuses on contributing positively to the environment by providing training to members on how to be environmentally friendly. Initiatives include using manure from the cows to fertilise crops and training the farmers on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Public health is also a focus for LELBREN and its farmers – the co-operative have a fleet of trucks to collect the milk and take it to the collection centres, and a new cooling plant has opened to serve farmers in rural areas. These facilities and services ensure that the milk does not spend long periods in hot conditions.
The co-operative provides veterinary support to farmers, meaning that animals are in good health and any diseases the animals could suffer with potential to compromise milk quality, are treated promptly.
This system works for everyone. Cattle on well managed pasture-based dairy systems experience excellent health and animal welfare, with incidence of mastitis and lameness being low. If illness or disease occurs, veterinary care is available through LELBREN.