- Joseph Otiende, a farmer, urged the national and Kakamega governments to intervene and train farmers in the benefits of cooperative societies and farmer groups in relation to wealth creation and general economic empowerment.
Dairy farmers in Lugari are not benefitting from milk coolers because of poor management of milk cooperative societies and farmer groups.
The milk coolers worth millions of shillings, installed in Mautuma, Chekalini and Lumakanda locations, are complete but unused, because the farmers do not have adequate knowledge on management of cooperative societies and running the equipment.
In a meeting that brought together farmers’ representatives from across the subcounty, the dairy farmers complained that leadership wrangles and political interference were hampering the management of milk cooling plants.
Joseph Otiende, a farmer, urged the national and Kakamega governments to intervene and train farmers in the benefits of cooperative societies and farmer groups in relation to wealth creation and general economic empowerment.
Otiende said the majority of agricultural projects rolled out by the government and non-governmental development partners have failed to progress because the farmers are not well versed in collective management and its benefits.
“I believe our farmers do not understand the working system and benefits of cooperative movements,” Otiende said.
Conservation Agriculture farmer in Lumakanda location Peter Imbusi regretted that dairy farmers were selling milk for as low as Sh20 per litre to brokers, yet the coolers, which are meant to help improve prices, are lying idle.
Imbusi also reiterated the need to educate farmers on how to run cooperative movements so that they can get value for their money in various areas along the farming value chain.
Lugari subcounty agricultural officer Kakai Wasike asked the farmer associations to relook the Cooperatives Act and forward their recommendations to the Kakamega county assembly.
Kakai said the recommendations should address the challenges of the farmers’ cooperatives and how to overcome them.
He singled out the warehouses sponsored by the county government in the subcounty as a good initiative for the farmers but called for strengthened security and proper management.
Kakai said farmers organised in cooperative movements and groups will reap more from the warehouses if proper education is provided.
Kakamega County Farmers Association chairman Habakkuk Khamaala said they are lobbying for the county government funding so that it can be felt by the farmers.
He said the association gets farmers’ views directly and shares them with the county Assembly and even with Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
Khamaala said the association is looking into how best cooperatives movements can be managed to benefit farmers directly and strengthen funding for periodical field days and demo plots.
The meeting was convened by KECOFA for consensus-building towards Governors Day, which is celebrated on February 22 every year and relooks at the strength of county government agricultural initiatives, challenges and mitigation across the county.