- MeSlopes is a dairy farmers’ group that produces its own feeds which they buy and sell to other farmers.
- Transparency and accountability are key for a group to remain intact.
- To start feeds production, the group contracted two specialists trained in animal feed making and milling to work with them on commercialising the business.
- The group hopes that in the next few years, they would be selling their dairy meal across the country, competing with the big boys.
Inside the makeshift structure made of wood and iron sheets in Meru are stacks of bags of dairy meal and other animal products, waiting to be transported to various agro-dealers for sale.
Walking inside the structure, one gets a feeling that they are in a major animal feeds producer, save for the temporary warehouse.
However, this structure belongs to MeSlopes, a dairy farmers’ chama in the agriculturally rich county that is producing animal feeds for sale.
“We started with only four members in 2015,” Joseph Mutwiri, the group’s chair and one of the founders recounts.
“Then we went for farmers who were producing at least 50 litres a day and were determined to double their volumes.”
Some 30 dairy farmers signed up to be members of MeSlopes, enabling the outfit to take off after it was registered with the social services as a self-help group.
The group developed a constitution that outlined their activities, stated objectives, rules to deal with banking, accounting and auditing, among others.
The outfit is headed by an executive committee, helped by the management, development, welfare and marketing committees, which each member belonging to one.
“We agreed to contribute Sh5,000 a month to act as savings. With the money, we were able get resources to fund training for our members by SNV dairy specialists on different aspects of farming, feed making was one of them,” says Mutwiri.
Among the aspects of dairy farming they were trained on were fodder growing and preservation and how members can preserve their own semen to ensure quality breeds.
Armed with the knowledge, the group’s next step was then to tackle challenges they had one by one, which included poor quality breeds, low quality feeds and marketing issues.
The fruits of their training started to manifest as members’ total milk production rose from about 1,000 litres a day to 2,000 litres.
They sell their milk mainly to Meru Union, a dairy processor, and to Moran Ltd in Nanyuki at between Sh40 and Sh43.
To start feeds production, the group contracted two specialists trained in animal feed making and milling to work with them on commercialising the business.