The milk chama giving big boys a run for their money
“We started by collecting the little milk produced and selling locally at Sh50 a litre but we soon discovered a huge demand of the produce in the nearby market centre named Muriri. Each farmer was contributing two to three litres raising up to 70 litres,” recounts Gertrude, who holds a Masters in Education degree.
“With the number of milk having surged, we established three selling points; two in Muriri and one in Charuru and bought two small freezers at Sh100,000 from our savings to ensure that the milk is cooled and maintained at temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius,” says Morris Mutuma, the group’s treasurer.
In September last year, the group achieved a milestone by buying the pasteuriser and a milk ATM, each with a capacity of 200 litres at Sh600,000 — money from their savings, making it the first vendor in the region to pasteurise their milk.
“Pasteurisation is an effective method of killing bacteria in milk and does not reduce its nutritional value making it safer for human consumption,” says Gertrude, who is the chairperson of the group and keeps four cows.
Chatime Jabali Group members in Meru County. In September last year, the group achieved a milestone by buying a pasteuriser and a milk ATM, each with a capacity of 200 litres at Sh600,000, which is money from their savings, making them the first vendor in the region to pasteurise their milk. PHOTO | CAROLINE WAMBUI | NMG
“We are not only able to offer milk in the friendliest and hygienic way, but also we are in a position to preserve the milk in an optimal way while maintaining the flavour and selling to our customers at Sh60 a litre or in any quantity they want. Customers who buy more than 20 litres enjoy a discount of Sh10.”
“Breeding was a big challenge since sometimes the semen was collected from poor quality bulls, freezing was also poor due to lack of facilities coupled by poor skills by some extension officers. Limited access to veterinary services further affected productivity resulting to breeding problems to farmers,” Gertrude explains.
She says the group, which is currently competing with the big boys in the region, is transitioning into a co-operative and they plan to also start manufacturing their own feeds.
“My being away does not cause any vacuum because the treasurer and the secretary manage the group. We also hold meetings by teleconferencing and we have a WhatsApp group,” she says, noting farmers are paid weekly for deliveries.
Mary Ng’ang’a, a quality trainer with Policy and Market, explains that if farmers take too long to deliver milk to the collecting centre, bacteria multiplication starts as the natural enzyme that preserves milk — lacto peroxides — is only active in the first two hours.
“If the process of collecting, grading and transportation takes more than two hours, bacteria multiplication starts even before the milk gets to the cooling and processing unit forcing it to precipitate, thus, compromising quality.”