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Abstract

The dairy sector in Kenya is one of the largest and most developed in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for four percent of its gross domestic product. Despite high production volumes, the sector is still dominated by smallholder farmers who rely on livestock for income and food security. Dairy farmers face a number of barriers to increased profitability, including animal diseases, lack of access to artificial insemination and other veterinary services, high costs of improved technologies, such as silage equipment, inadequate access to markets, poor rural infrastructure and unsteady supply of quality animal fodder. The Smallholder Dairy Commercialisation Programme (SDCP) was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by the Government of Kenya from 2005 – 2015. It was designed to reach 600 dairy groups (24,000 smallholder dairy farmers) in nine counties. SDCP provided training to dairy farmers to build their enterprise, managerial and organisational skills. Aside from training, the programme also aimed to enhance dairy farming productivity and reduce production costs through demonstration, field days and grants. To strengthen market linkages, SDCP invested in improving road infrastructure and conducted additional training on milk-handling practices and value-added opportunities. The programme identified three main areas where barriers to improving dairy income potentially operate: dairy group activities, household production and market intermediaries. Programme designers hypothesised that increasing net dairy income for smallholder farmers can occur through four primary contextual factors (1) increasing milk production; (2) increasing milk prices; (3) decreasing the costs of producing milk; and (4) decreasing the transaction costs of participation in input and output markets. They assumed that increased net income will lead to improved food security and increased participation by women and marginalised communities.

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