Reducing poverty through dairy farming

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Reducing poverty through dairy farming

Benjamin Kemboilives lives in the Tuigoin village in northern Kenya. He and his wife Emily have four children.

Benjamin used to work as temporary staff for Kenya Railways, a public service in Kirinyaga. His work was heavy and poorly paid. He could not save enough money to send back home to his wife and the children for food and schooling.

With such dire prospects, Benjamin decided to go back to his village and live with his family. Not knowing what exactly to do, he decided to give dairy farming a try – albeit with no experience.

“When I embarked on this journey, I thought that with dairy farming my family would at least have some milk to drink,” said Benjamin. With the small saving from his former job, he purchased two traditional cows that produced an average of two litres each per day.

In 2009, as he was walking to the village market, Benjamin saw a poster announcing that the IFAD-supported Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme was providing training to young people who wanted to engage in dairy farming.

Benjamin applied and joined the training. He was soon trained in livestock feeding and more specifically how to improve pasture and fodder production, how to market dairy products and in dairy enterprise management. He then decided to sell the two traditional cows and buy a better breed, one that could produce an average of 15 litres per day.

Benjamin now owns a grazing unit and has grown his herd to eight dairy cows that allow him to have an average of 15 litres of milk each per day.

Now, Benjamin owns a grazing unit and has grown his herd to eight dairy cows that allow him to have an average of 15 litres of milk each per day. He aspires to double his production in the next two years. Benjamin is now an active member of the dairy Sugoi Alliance Cooperative where he manages the computerized milk records. Thanks to the income from his farm and his membership to the Sugoi cooperative, Equity Bank granted a loan that he used to invest in equipment for fodder production.

As a young model dairy farmer, Benjamin is training the other young dairy farmers. He has an average of 100 paid trainees a year who pay 100 Kenyan schillings to learn from their mentor. Also, he cultivates vegetables in his garden that he uses for household consumption and sells the surplus.

“Thanks to my new business, I managed to improve the food and nutrition status of my household," said Benjamin.

"Now, we can afford easily three meals a day. I send three of my four children to a private boarding school. With my income, my fourth child will also go to a private school when he reaches school age.”

Future plans for Benjamin include building a cement house for his family. He says he is looking forward to leaving their clay home very soon.

“The young people in the village see how dairy farming has transformed my life. Now they are keen to rise to the challenge and want to replicate my experience.”