By Bob Aston
Sabatia Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd in Eldama Ravine Town is slowly gaining its status as the most successful cooperative in Baringo County. Established in 1953 the cooperative once hosted a delegation led by the founding president Jomo Kenyatta.
The collapse of Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) in late 1990s affected the cooperative as milk prices reduced. Things only started improving after revival of New KCC and entrance of Brookside Dairy in Eldama Ravine.
|Community members buying milk and yoghurt at Sabatia Farmers Cooperative|
Mr. Peter Kasaon, Vice Chairman Sabatia Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd said that the organization has a milk bar, milk-processing plant, and a dairy meal-manufacturing outfit. The organization mainly draws its membership from the agricultural rich Sabatia Settlement Scheme.
The 3,490 members of the cooperative supply nearly 8,500 litres of milk per day. Installed at the cooperative premises is a 10,000-litre and 5,000-litre capacity milk cooler. In addition, the cooperative has a satellite cooler at Kiboron. The cooperative charges the members 18 percent of their sales to enable them pay salaries for its 34 employees, cater for transport as well as other expenses.
Mr. Kasaon said that a 3.9 million loan from the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) helped to revive its dairy meal manufacturing plant.
“The dairy meal manufacturing plant has not only helped to increase access to livestock feeds but farmers are now able to buy animal feeds at lower prices,” said Mr. Kasaon.
The loan was as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Baringo County Government and KCB Foundation, which aims at enabling dairy farmers’ access credit services including interest free loans, training in proper livestock production, development, and management of the value chain.
The dairy meal-manufacturing plant produces an average of 2,500 kgs of dairy meal a day. The members buy the dairy meal in packs of 10 kgs, 20 kgs, and 70 kgs.
Next to the dairy meal manufacturing plant is a milk bar and a milk processing plant. The Society does not have a boiler hence they have to boil milk-using firewood. The cooperative does value addition at the milk processing plant by producing yoghurt and Maziwa Mala.
Mr. Kasaon said that the members receive farm inputs at the agrovet and dairy meal manufacturing plant through a check-off system. This has ensured that other traders do not exploit the farmers and at the same time enabling them to increase milk production.
Use of Information and communication technologies (ICT) has enabled the cooperative to use digital weighing scales and farmers electronic pay slip. The farmers’ milk deliveries are stored on their proximity cards and they get printed receipts of the daily weighed kilos. Members are also able to receive monthly milk deliveries as well as other reports.
|Laikipia Maize farmers at Sabatia Farmers Cooperative during an exchange visit|
“We also have an ICT training centre where members and their families receive training in basic ICT skills. Payment is through deductions from member’s milk sale,” said Mr. Kasaon.
The cooperative has outsourced Artificial Insemination (AI) services in order to ensure that members improve their breeds. The members pay for the service through a check-off system as the members are deducted the cost when they deliver milk. The cooperative is planning to outsource transport services although they have a pickup and a lorry.
Joining the cooperative requires a Kshs 500 registration fee and daily delivery of milk. The cooperative can also deduct registration fee from the first month’s milk payment when a farmers does not have cash.
To be eligible to vie for any elective post in the cooperative one must be delivering at least 15 litres of milk a day. Elections are after every three years with each of the three administrative units of Sabatia scheme producing three-management committee member.
The cooperative is also a member of Baringo Agricultural Marketing Services Cooperative Society Limited (BAMSCOS).The umbrella organization formed in August 2012 is helping to facilitate farmer’s access to profitable markets for their farm produce as well as provision of production support services and championing farmer’s interest through advocacy.
Mr. Kasaon believes that despite the high cost of dairy meal products and fluctuating milk price the cooperative is on track to regain its status as one of the most successful cooperative organizations in Kenya.