There is only one successfully tested way of keeping youth away from the illicit alcohol and other destructive behaviour; create opportunities where they will be engaged to avoid idleness and earn money to meet their needs.
And this is what Mwangi Githaiga has done. Finding time from his engaging duties as the Managing Director of the Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT), a microfinance bank, Mr. Githaiga has built one of the most successful dairy farming ventures at Rukanga, between Makutano and Sagana.
His farm is known as Meved Dairy Farm which has more than 100 high grade dairy cows kept in the most professional way possible, enabling him to produce 700 litres of milk every day.
Meved Dairy Farm has now introduced the first milk dispenser in Kirinyaga County at it newly opened milk bar located at Kagio. The plan is to introduce another milk dispenser at Makutano and another at Mwea.
“I chose to set up these investments in the county to create job opportunities. As we fight illicit brew, we must have alternatives to offer the youth so that they don’t become idle and revert to destructive social behavior,” said Mr. Githaiga.
Employment for the youth at Meved Dairy Farm is three-fold. Some youth are employed at the milk bars located at Kagio, on the farm and at Makutano. Others are employed at the dairy farm itself, both skilled and unskilled labour to take care of the cows, while others are employed in the fields that are used to grow the fodder for the cows.
To increase opportunities for the farm and also employment opportunities, 200 litres out of the 700 litres produced daily are value added into yoghurt and mala and packaged for sale through the farm’s retail outlets. The other is sold to the public and the New KCC as fresh milk.
Mr. Githaiga has been instrumental in public education for potential dairy farmers in Kirinyaga and other counties like Kakamega and Meru, with his farm as a showcase of successful dairy farming even in area like Rukanga, part of Mwea region that is generally classified as dry.
For Mr. Githaiga’s dairy farming can only be successful when the farm is able to produce enough fodder for the animals, otherwise the venture will not become profitable. Enough feed for dairy cows is the key ingredient of success, among other dairy cow management issues, he said.
That is why he has bought and leased several farms where he grows sorghum variety known as Sudanese grass. This is mixed with maize germ, urea (normal fertilizer to break down the sorghum stalk), and molasses which adds sugar or energy to the fodder.
He is able to make fodder of up to 200 tonnes, enough to feed his cows for the next three years. It means that even if there is drought, he will maintain the high level of milk production, ensuring steady flow of revenue to the farm.
His advice to dairy farmers and those planning to venture into dairy farming is that they should use the best semen from a reputable and professional company to ensure the get the best breed of cows that produce the most milk.
Farmers should also manage the cows by ensuring they are vaccinated on time, have a comfortable housing, and feed it with the right amount and the right quality of fodder.
“Farmers should farm more milk. The demand is very high and unmet. Kenya is still a milk deficient country and therefore the market is available locally even before we think of exporting,” said Mr. Githaiga.