Women are the backbones of Kenya. They are the ones who will feed the continent. They are the ones who will keep hunger at bay here. Their participation in the agricultural economy is vitally important to Africa’s future.
In Nakuru, Kenya we met Teresia Riungu, a dairy farmer who has managed to provide a living for herself in her retirement and has created enough work to employ others. Her small dairy farm is contributing to food security in her community as well as a food product that is nutritious for consumers which is important to the overall health of the country. Teresia Riungu through hard work, ingenuity, and spunk, has created an enterprise that has changed not only her life, but the lives of many others.
Teresia has been able to improve upon her dairy farm with the help of USAID. As a part of the five year Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program (KDSCP) that has been implemented by Land O’Lakes, Teresia has been trained to increase her milk supply, better feed her cows, improve upon breeding, and market her milk. Today her dairy farm produces 35 – 40 liters of milk per day and supplies cash flow to her on a daily basis. She earns $370 per month which is far above the one dollar a day that most Kenyans earn.
The Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program was designed to help small dairy farmers generate greater income through the sale of quality milk. Currently the KDSCP has reached 170,000 farmers, but its goal is to reach 300,000 farmers in order to create a competitive marketplace to sell milk straight to consumers, grocery stores and restaurants.
Land O’Lakes, who has worked in Kenya for ten years, targets women to help them form dairy cooperatives and work together to improve their household incomes. Teresia is a member of the Njoro Farmers Cooperative Society and has been since 2007. Due to the effectiveness of the collective, in 2005 the collective had 40 members and today there are over 400. Members of the collective, which is 60 percent women, were recently able to buy a two acre plot of land to build a processing plant. Now they are preparing to purchase a cooling facility instead of having to rent one.
These dairy collectives that you can find all over Africa, work because together the farmers are able to earn greater income by bulking their milk instead of selling it individually. Also, they have access to processing and cooling. Through the collective the farmers are also able to receive training on breeding, feeding their cows and growing more nutritious foods for the cows.
Before joining the collective, one of Teresia’s problems was losing her heifers to a shortage of food. Today she has a storehouse of hay that will last through the end of the year. She has also been trained to turn her heifer’s dung into methane gas that she will be able to use for lighting and cooking. This clean energy will enable Teresia to stop getting firewood and over time she will be able to have a small cooling facility on her own property.
Meeting Teresia showed us first-hand how well the program works. With three heifers and four calves, Teresia has earned enough to open her own bank account, an accomplishment she is extremely proud of. She no longer has to rely on her husband for money and is proud that she has a profit making small business to call her own.