By Dido Boru AND Boscow Ambunda
When Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya gave Everlyn Nafuna a dairy cow under the One Cow initiative, her life changed for good.
She was able to put food on the table and even take her children to school to get formal education.
Ms Nafuna who hails from Emutomonye village, Butsotso Central Ward in Lurambi Sub County named the cow ‘Diana’.
In an exclusive interview with the County Guardian News, Nafuna said the dairy cow gives her 15 litres of milk daily which she sells at Sh60 per litre translating to Sh900 per day.
The cow which has given birth to two calves now, gives her at least Sh25, 000 per month which she uses to pay school fees to her kids.
“None of my 8 children went beyond primary school due to lack of fees. But I have ensured that my lastborn daughter who is now studying at Masingu High School finishes his secondary education so that he can uplift the family. His school fees come from selling milk,” said Ms Nafuna
Besides educating her daughter, the mother of nine uses the money she gets from selling milk to educate an adopted girl who is a total orphan. She took her to Shimanyuru mixed day secondary school.
“Life was very difficult before the County Government gave me this cow. I used to work as a housemaid to put food on the table but now, I have my own money and can fend for my family without hustling so much,” she said.
She added: “I have planted enough nappier grass to feed my animals. I have also planted Kikuyu grass and mlato which is mixed with nappier grass to increase milk production,”
Everlyne Imbiakha aged 27 years from Ebinzo village is another beneficiary of the program. She received the cow in 2017.
Her dairy cow has already delivered and now she is putting up a two-bedroomed house from the savings made from selling milk.
In Butsotso South ward, Joseph Ambadu is of the 20 dairy farmers who benefited from the One Cow initiative.
He said the county government under the program gave out at least 20 dairy cows per ward across the 60 wards of Kakamega County.
As we enter into his homestead, he narrates how he almost lost the cow but got the services of a livestock officer on time.
“With 10 liters of milk I get from the cow, I no longer spend money to buy milk. Moreover I use her manure to improve my farm’s fertility. I also uses the manure to cultivate indigenous vegetables which I sell at the local market and the money I get I pay school fees from my children,” Mr. Ambadu said
Already, the county government has given out free dairy cows to over 1,200 households at a cost of Sh61 million and those who got the dairy cows in the first phase have passed 1,310 heifers to other farmers within the self-help groups’ enrolled tor the programme.
Under the programme, selected farmers are given dairy cows and are supposed to pass the heifers to others after calving.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Kakamega Dairy Development Co-operation George Onunga said the program which started in 2015 is in the third phase and over 110 dairy animals have been given out in Shinyalu and Ikolomani constituencies.
“This makes the total number of dairy cows given to 1310 in the entire county. One cow initiative is geared and increasing milk production to make the county self-sufficient,” said Onunga.
Kakamega per year requires 197.6 million litres annually forcing it to rely heavily on Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties which translate to 80 per cent of milk consumed in the county.
According to Mr Onunga, before a farmer is allocated a cow, he or she is vetted thoroughly to ensure it’s a deserving case saying beneficiaries must have at least an acre of nappier grass in their homesteads and can access adequate supply of water.
Onunga said the farmer must be in a self-help group to get the dairy cow.
Besides the initiative, the County Government has established Smart Farms across the 12 constituencies where dairy animals are put under zero grazing whose production is above 20 liters of milk in a day.
The smart farm purpose is to act as nucleus for milk processing factory to be set up at Malava.
“Milk from one cow initiative and smart farm will be combined and taken to factory. Still the new factory which be set up this financial will cater for the dairy farmers even those who are not part of the two initiatives” says Mr. Onunga.
He added: “Twelve smart diaries are to be established where each sub-county is allocated one smart farm. Two of them have already been established, one in Bukura and the second in Matungu,”
Bukura smart farm is located just next to Bukura agricultural training center. The farm has 20 cows.
The two year old farm produces 190 liters of milk in a day which is sold at Ikolomani dairy co-operative at price of ksh. 40 per liter.
Recently, Governor Oparanya after signing into law the Kakamega County Dairy Development Corporation Bill 2017 said dairy sector is set to be given first priority since the sugar industry which has been supporting over 2million people was ailing.
According to Oparanya, the dairy programme is to ensure the county has enough milk that apart from local consumption; it will cater for the Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) milk program and for export.