Most farmers will applaud this but the tough job will be how to sustain the consumption amidst changing feeding patterns in and around the region. According to an article appearing The East African title 'Got Milk? Kenya's Dairy firms in joint publicity campaigns' Kenyans remain the highest consumers of milk in the East African region ....this is a fact usually seen in simple practice as tea-making and taking which is easily Kenya's 'social drink'. In some countries such as Tanzania, black tea or coffee is more common,a trait replicated in countries such as Ethiopia and shattered Somalia.
The same article also notes the case for lactose intolerance ( a condition where the human body lacks the digestive enzyme lactase which breaks down lactose contained in milk). Its is quite high in most adults in the country though majority still do not know they suffer from the same. This is bound to hamper consumption of milk in its purest form ( yoghurt and other cultured milk such as mala can be consumed by those suffering from lactose intolerance if you may).
This campaign seems to be targeted at all the age groups though from the TV ad, there might be a misleading element if one has to be a kid to drink milk or if its meant for the 'young at heart'.
The other dilemma is if the milk processors are able to sustain the milk production without compromising on both the quantity and quality. In February and March of this year, there was a milk glut in most urban centres which led to a price increase of almost 35% of the commodity. Fairly good rains in most of the agricultural regions has seen the milk output increase and reach optimal levels. However, a lot of wastage is still seen in some areas where the infrastructure is lacking.
Another case study which the Kenya Dairy Board needs to remember is the Nyayo milk - the free milk programme in primary schools in the 1980s and early 90s. Though the milk was secured to milk processing firms, much of the content consumed at the schools had been stripped off much of its nutritional value. There were also reports of drugs lacing the milk to induce impotence among other claims. Such scenarios would be in the offing if the KDB would decide to revisit such a programme as earlier indicated in the year.
Also, if the campaign is to be successful, dairy farmers across the country need be included and remunerated well for their efforts in ensuring good milk production and supply. The whole supply chain needs to be streamlined to see to it few or no bottlenecks exist. The farmers can also participate in weekly or monthly awareness forums to sensitise locals on the need for consuming milk.
|David Rudisha takes mursik too - www.reuters.com|
All in all, it is a good start and it is our hope that the renewed interest in milk consumption will not just benefit the milk processors who are more commercially driven but also work to promote a healthy feeding culture in the country and region. It should also benefit the farmers with increased earnings from their labour in dairy farming.