Innovation Transforms Dairy Farming in Kenya

May 18, 2017
Sylvia MainaAlfred Samoei, a small-scale farmer and cooperative member, explains how a digital scale has made dairy farming a profitable enterprise for his family.

Alfred Samoei, like many other small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, could not get a loan from a bank nor access regular extension services for livestock breeding. He also didn’t have buyers for his milk, particularly ones who could pay a good price and pay it promptly. This made him vulnerable to exploitation. So, like his peers, Samoei would sell the milk to local traders and brokers. They paid him on time, but they didn’t pay a fair price. 

Things changed after September 2014 when a digital scale and supply chain system—EASYMA 6.0—was introduced in his community. With support and technical assistance from the USAID-funded Feed the Future Kenya Innovation Engine, the scale was developed and deployed by Kenyan firm Amtech Technologies Limited. Ever since, EASYMA 6.0 has been transforming dairy farmers' lives in Kenya’s Nandi and Bomet counties.

This innovation has made it possible for farmers to get accurate data about their products and earn a better living in the process. Using the scale, farmers weigh milk at designated buyer collection centers within a 45 kilometer radius of their marketing cooperative. As soon as their milk is weighed, they get an automated receipt for it. The milk’s weight is registered in real time with their marketing cooperative’s main office and the farmers’ savings and credit cooperative, from which they can get an immediate advance.

As a one-stop automated supply chain solution, the scale also improves transparency and record-keeping within the dairy industry.

By 2015, Samoei was delivering around 50 liters of milk a day. His wife used the profits to run their household and pay back a loan the family had previously taken out.

By May 2016, the scale was enabling over 22,000 members of Kabiyet and Siongiroi dairies to access farm extension services, financial products, and even livestock insurance through several state-of-the-art modules incorporated into its web- and mobile-based system.

Before EASYMA 6.0, Samoei and other farmers had to leave their busy farms to make unplanned trips to the dairy to access artificial insemination and extension services. For time-sensitive needs, such as help for sick animals, typical delays in delivery would lead to quantifiable losses for the farmer or lost opportunities.

“If I can access timely artificial insemination services by sending an SMS to the system and can get extension services by querying EASYMA on my cellphone, surely, I have nothing to complain about!” Samoei says.

Improved access to extension services and the farmers’ growing confidence in the weighing and payment processes have led to a rise in productivity and enhanced delivery to dairy plants. These advances benefit players at each point along the dairy value chain.