PhD project by Simon Ndungu Nyokabi. Knowledge of milk quality and constraints to improvement is limited among smallholder farmers in Kenya, which hampers improvement of milk quality in the dairy value chain as a whole. This PhD study aims to investigate and design measures which will lead to improved milk quality at farm level in Kenya.
The dairy sector plays an important role in the Kenyan economy and supports the livelihood of smallholder farmers across the country. There is increasing demand for milk in Kenya and surrounding countries such as Uganda and Zambia, due to a growing and wealthier population. However, the quality of milk and dairy products currently available for purchase by consumers is low. There are two value chains through which Kenyan smallholder farmers trade their milk: the formal value chain, where actors adhere to standards and regulations, and the informal value chain, which is characterised by low compliance and non-adherence to standards and regulations. The informal chain dominates milk transactions with direct sales of raw milk accounting for approximately 80% of milk sold in Kenya.
Knowledge of milk quality and constraints to improvement is limited among smallholder farmers in Kenya, which hampers improvement of milk quality in the dairy value chain as a whole. There are no incentives for farmers to deliver milk of higher quality to dairy plants due to a lack of quality-based payment systems established by processors. The raw milk delivered by farmers to collection centres through the formal value chain for processing into dairy products is of low quality, and cannot be transformed into quality milk and dairy products by the dairy industry. Raw milk sold directly to consumers through the informal value chain is also below the required quality standards. The Kenyan dairy sector is expected to grow in coming years. However, its growth will be inhibited until the issue of raw milk quality - which impacts on processing, shelf-life and sensory qualities of milk and dairy products - is addressed.
This PhD study aims to investigate and design measures which will lead to improved milk quality at farm level in Kenya, utilising a research framework which acknowledges spatial distribution and differentiated levels of intensification of farming systems. It will yield potential solutions to farm level constraints currently undermining farmers' ability or capacity to produce high quality milk in Kenya.
The objectives of this PhD study are to:
- Describe farming systems, the dairy value chain, the roles played by different actors and stakeholders, and their perceptions of milk quality.
- Assess the quality of milk, and activities influencing quality along the dairy value chain.
- Explore how the quality of milk could be improved through feeding and the likely social economic impacts of an improvement in milk quality:
3.1 Carry out a diagnostic study of feeds and assess the impact of feeds on milk quality
3.2 Determine milk quality improvement scenarios and their impacts.
- Explore ways to organise the dairy value chain and incentives to improve millk quality.
The PhD researcher will collect data from farm households, and key stakeholders in the Kenyan dairy sector using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data collected will be analysed to evaluate the scope for, and likelihood of realising an improvement in milk quality in the formal and informal value chain. The findings of the study will inform dairy sector stakeholders, policy makers and academia, providing insights into how milk quality and the performance of the dairy sector in Kenya could be improved through institutional and policy development.