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    Camera man clicks fortunes with milk

    As the revolution of digital camera and mobile phones with cameras was taking Kenyans into frenzy, One Peter Chege was getting worried day by day. Employed as a photographer in a studio in Kitale town, the revolution bug was hitting the studio negatively.

    Fewer clients were visiting the studio. His family’s expectations were growing higher every month his income was diminishing. One end month he walked home with Sh4,000 and told his family that it was his last salary as an employee.

    A neigbour saw him in despair and introduced him to Ngombe Safi self help group. The group is among the 61 dairy groups benefitting from SDCP interventions in the larger Trans Nzoia district.

    Peter had a cow but of low genetic potential and was not producing well. He embraced dairy as a business dedicating his time and attending all the SDCP trainings and practicing the lessons in his farm. A friend sold him a 3 month heifer calf of high genetic merit at Ksh 10,000. He paid this from profit gained from increased milk production after a management change of renovating his zero grazing unit, and addressing health issues which yielded a noticeable reduction on treatment expenditure.

    The same included tactical change of timing on feeding schedules, starting 6am. Milk production increased from 4 liters to 6 liters. Meanwhile Ngombe Safi had grown and was giving loan to its members. Mr. Chege's first loan from the Group of Sh5,000 was to renovate his Zero Grazing Unit, which controlled foot-rot ailments.

    The second loan of Ksh. 10,000 was to further better the unit and he contributed additional funds Sh 20,000 from milk sale proceeds to accomplish the work. The third loan of Sh20,000 was for water improvement. With added money as part of his commitment from the savings, he purchased a water pump and a tank.

    The fourth loan of Sh20,000 was for biogas development on the improved zero grazing unit. He further contributed Khs. 30,000, again from his savings from milk sales. The completed biogas is now fully operational. The farmer recounts on energy saving on wood fuel and paraffin of approximately Sh2,400 per month. He has developed a feed sufficiency strategy and with knowledge acquired during training, and with savings made so far, he bought a feed chopper and stores  hay and  silage.

    Mr. Chege's acquired heifer has now calved down and it gives him approximately 16 liters/day, at first calving, and like other members he supplies the group with an average of 25litters/day. This earns him over Sh18,000 a month, a much better income than his photography job.

    “His vision is to produce 50 litres of milk per cow per day in 10 years time when hopes he will have pure dairy cows pedigrees. Mr. Chege like many small scale dairy farmers who have seen great improvement in his dairy herd and milk production thanks to the Small Holder Dairy Commercialization Programme (SDCP).

    Through the programme many farmers who had lost hope in dairy farming are now trooping back as they see a ray of hope in the venture.

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