Siongiroi Dairy Project is located at Siongiroi market centre within Siongiroi Division of Bomet District. The region is mainly inhabited by a pastoralist community of the Kalenjin tribe whose main economic and social activity is dairy farming and cattle rearing. Siongiroi Dairy Project became operational in 1998 and had been supplying milk to state run Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC). However the collapse of KCC in the mid 90s, brought many challenges of market access to the dairy project and it started making enormous losses. This effect of unstable market haunted the dairy plant up until 2009, when through EADD’s intervention, the business regained its foothold and started making profits again. The company has currently started to pay back a long standing loan owed to Heifer Project International which is a major shareholder and which helped its members set up the dairy business. EADD’s intervention in Siongiroi has resulted into tremendous improvements in the overall performance of the plant.
Perhaps one of the important drivers to this turnaround is the change of management at the board level which has boosted the confidence levels of the farmers in investing in the dairy company. Poor governance of dairy co-operatives has been a stumbling block for progress. EADD has worked tirelessly with Siongiroi to put in a new, efficient management body to implement its business plan and steer it to success. This change and a strong mobilization of more farmers to join the company have been very effective to its on-going progress.
Increased milk supply
When EADD began to work with Siongiroi at the start of 2008, the dairy plant had an average number of suppliers ranging between 350 to 400 delivering their milk daily. By June 2010 this number has shot to between 1100 – 1200 active suppliers. In the history of the dairy plant, this is the first time the plant has sustained a high volume of milk intake for a period of one year. In 2008, average milk delivered per farmer was between 3-5 kilos, while currently the farmer average ranges from 5-8 kilos. This increase in production is as a result of better dairy management, better feeds and feeding systems, adoption of artificial insemination and uptake of technology being promoted by EADD by the farmers. Farmers who supply milk to the dairy now earn an average income of Kshs 6,676 (USD 84) on a monthly basis.
Trainings and appropriate technology
Training of farmers is an important aspect in sustaining production.The dairy plant together with government officials, EADD and other stakeholders such as Norbrok and Brookside continue to hold frequent trainings through farmer field days, dairy management groups and exposure tours. Out of these trainings and exposure visits, adoption of artificial insemination (AI) in the area has greatly increased, leading to doubling of inseminators from 2 in 2008 to 4 active ones in 2010. Currently these inseminators each inseminate approximately 100 – 150 inseminations per month. Farmers of Siongiroi have also been actively participating in exchange visits to expand their knowledge on dairy management.
Improved Business Development Services
Services to farmers has immensely improved. In 2008, the co-operative society had 4 medium level transporters, mainly using bicycles and donkey carts to collect milk from farmers and deliver to the plant. As at June 2010, the transporters have increased to a staggering 77, two of whom are bulk transporters. They include tractors, motor vehicles, motorcycles, donkey carts and a few bicycles. Motorcycles on average can deliver up-to 250 kilos per trip. On occasional circumstances, others deliver two trips per day. This new transport system has re-organized milk collection points, by creating extra bulking centers at the Dairy Management Groups (DMGs). This new business development service has revitalized the local economy which has had a multiplier effect on the local purchasing power and up-scaled other economic activities.
Excellent service delivery through check-off system
Farmers are getting good services through the check-off system of payment. The two main services on check-off system are artificial insemination and transport. Transport is purely on check-off while AI contributes to 50% of all cases inseminated. The transporters collectively take home an average income of Ksh 414,000 (approximately USD 5,200) giving each of them approximately Ksh 5,376 (USD 67) per month.
Active involvement of Dairy Management Groups (DMGs)
A DMG is an organized group of farmers ranging between 15 -20, mainly for dairy training purposes. The board and the management of the dairy plant have actively involved DMG officials even in their monthly project reviews. This has strengthened the DMGs, which have lately started milk collection points, each coordinated by DMG chairman. Each DMG identifies a transporter in their midst and is linked to the company through check-off system. On average each DMG can bulk up-to 50-80 kilos per day assuming all members are active. This translates to 2400 kilos per month although this figure varies among DMGs.
These DMGs are also the epicenter for distribution of other services and events undertaken by the dairy company. These include distribution of ear-tags, de-wormers, selection of farmers attending exchange visits, linkages to loans and hub kitting.