As we kicked off the Africa Food Safety Summit 2022 day one, we were honored to have Margaret Kibogy, Managing Director, Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) flag the occasion with a keynote speech covering the dairy sector and how the Board is involved.
“They call me the ‘Prefect’ of the dairy sector. It really gives me a lot of pleasure to be here today, to be part of great minds that have come together to discuss issues of food, which are, of course, areas of safety and quality. We look at the areas of milk quality and safety in the dairy sector of Kenya. We are glad that the organizers of this event have again, invited KDB to be part of this agenda.
We take pride in celebrating some of the transformations and developments in the dairy sector toward achieving food security through the provision of quality and safe dairy produce. I’m sure all of us this morning, as we were taking our tea or coffee, you enjoyed the milk that is coming from our farmers. It’s not coming from anywhere else but within the country. We are happy that we are able to give you quality and safe milk in this country.
Around the world, as you are aware, it is estimated that 600 million people suffer from foodborne diseases. 1 in 10 people fall sick after eating contaminated food each year, sometimes resulting in death, and loss of healthy lives. We want to reduce that impact through the discussions that we’re going to have in these three days, we’ll be able to come up with interventions to look at that. Access to safe food is key to sustaining life, promoting good health, and enhancing trade and food security.
At the country level, access to safe food is fundamental and it is a right under the constitution of Kenya. It is stated in articles 43 and 46 of the constitution of Kenya 2010. Various initiatives have been developed at the national level and of course at the county level to address the food safety issues including, the development of the National Safety Policy and various policies like the bill that is coming up that aims at establishing an integrated farm-to-fork food safety system that will ensure the protection of public safety and food trade consistency, and of course, international trade and agreements, for example, WTO rules and SPS agreements.
The government has taken up other initiatives such as participating in World Food Safety Days, which was celebrated just last month on the seventh. And we actively participate as a board to draw attention and mobilize action for preventing and managing foodborne risk, improving human health, and enhancing training. Other initiatives of course include participation in the World Health FAO international standard setting, the Codex, and SPS committees.
Liberalization of the dairy sector creates safety loops
The development of the dairy industry spanned over the last century, has witnessed a myriad of changes. If you read the history of the dairy sector, it was controlled by white settlers all the way from the 1900s to the 1990s when it was liberalized. With the liberalization also came quality and safety challenges because more players have since been allowed to take part in milk marketing. This has led to the sale of raw milk in the urban and peri-urban centers in a haphazard manner, due to a lack of sometimes alternative market for the milk, posing a risk to consumer’s health through the spread of zoonotic diseases. The government has in turn formulated policies and strategies to ensure the sustainability of the sector is achieved while promoting the production of safe milk and milk products. The Dairy Development Policy session paper outlines strategies to streamline the informal market. It lists improved cooling, grading, infrastructure, and enhanced private sector investment in processing value addition as some of the ways to enhance the safety and quality of milk and milk products. When we look at storage, the government, with the partnership of the private sector has been able to install over 350 coolers across the country to enhance the issues of milk quality.
The National Dairy master plan 2010-2030 further gives the industry a Guided Action Plan for transforming the sector and achieving its full potential through improved feed quality and availability, better dairy management, and feeding, availability, and distribution of milk cooling facilities production of long-life dairy products and expansion of the export market. When you look at the dairy industry, it is thriving, and the annual production is growing. We are now at 5.6 billion litres, 4 billion coming from cows and the other coming from camel and goat milk. We have developed standards for both cow and camel milk and are working on goat milk standards.
Growing consumption rate calls for increased production
We have 4.2 million cattle and this agricultural sub-sector contributes 14% of the agriculture. It contributes 22.4% of the national GDP, according to the economic survey 2022. It gives direct employment to over 500,000 people and indirectly to 700,000 people. It’s also a source of income and livelihood for over 2 million small-scale dairy farmers across the country. Kenya currently produces 12% of the 49 billion liters produced in Africa, and approximately 0.65 of the global production, which is about 906 billion liters. We are the highest consumers of milk in the region with consumption continuously growing at a rate of 10%. That’s why if you live in Kenya, you saw that when we had a drought, we didn’t have milk in the month of March, and April, because the consumption is high. When we experience climate issues or drought, sometimes we’re not able to meet the local demand. As such we are working together with the national and county government to be able to expand and accelerate the production of milk.
When you go to the investment in the dairy sector, investment in new processing and marketing techniques in the last decades has really grown, leading to an increase in the average daily milk index to the formal sector from 417000 litres per day in 2001 to an average of 3 million litres per day, last year. The growth has been seven times in terms of processing, meaning we’ve been able to move milk from informal to formal. Much still needs to be done to ensure that we move 100% of milk from the informal to the formal sector, because we know the demand from the middle class is growing. We have 40 milk processing plants in the country, 141 milk dairies, and 1471 milk bars and dispensers. There’s been growth and an increase in total milk intakes handled by the formal sector, from 648 million litres in 2016 to 802 million litres in 2022. This is a growth of about 200 million litres of milk moving from the informal to the formal market.
The Board has established a well-equipped and modern dairy regulatory laboratory with well equipped personnel to provide milk sampling and testing services.
Decentralizing regulatory role to achieve safe and quality milk
Coming back to the quality and food safety agenda for the Africa Food Safety Summit, I am delighted to share with you some of the transformational strategies the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) has put in place to ensure we achieve quality and safe milk in the country. You are all aware that KDB is a government regulatory agency established by an act of parliament, ‘The Dairy Industry Act CAP 336’. The Act provides for the control of the dairy industry and its products. To achieve this, the Board requires a robust and modern solutions-oriented legal and regulatory framework that is responsive to the stakeholders’ needs while protecting the health of milk consumers.
Consumer protection is a constitutional right under article 46 of the constitution of Kenya. It gives the consumers the right to food of reasonable quality and to information necessary for them to gain full benefits from goods and services. The Board has been on the frontline in driving reforms in the dairy sector through a review of the Dairy Industry Act and its regulations, with the successful gazettement of the Dairy Regulations 2021 which are now operational.
The 2021 regulations address several issues including the allocation of dairy regulatory roles between the County and National Government, dairy produce safety, and organization of the dairy industry through registration, and issuance of regulatory permits, among others. The Dairy Produce Safety regulation in particular gives the requirements for hygienic handling of milk and milk products and necessary controls to reduce milk contamination from production to distribution. This regulation in specific gives requirements for dairy farms, milk collection centres, milk bars, milk processing cottages, and many dairies to deliver quality and safe dairy produce.
The Dairy Produce Traceability & Recalls Regulations aims at enhancing the safety of dairy products and providing a mechanism for tracing the recall of dairy produce. This provides for mandatory requirements for suppliers of information and labeling of dairy produce. The Dairy Industry Regulations will direct the efforts of achieving quality and safe dairy products to business operators, unlike in the past when the government bore the greatest responsibility.
New lab enhances testing capacity
The Board has established a well-equipped and modern dairy regulatory laboratory with well-trained personnel to provide milk sampling and testing services. The laboratory has the capacity to carry out chemical, physical and microbiological testing of milk and milk products. It supports the monitoring and surveillance of the safety and quality of dairy produce thus identifying areas of corrective action and improvement. Enhanced surveillance has been done, and through the lab, there has been a reduction in safety and quality issues for marketed dairy produce. The business operators are keen not to be found non-compliant since that is an area, we are very strict on.
The journey toward net zero
As we continue talking about food safety and quality, we need to reflect on the issues of climate change because it directly affects our sector. We’re part of the Paris Climate Agreement, where we are supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32%. When you look at the figures 90% of emissions come from agriculture with the dairy industry being responsible for 20% of emissions. We are very concerned, and we are looking at documenting to be able to look at strategies on how to mitigate these gas emissions and be part of the world that is looking at that. As Dairy Board, we are part of the pathways to net zero and we’ve come up with activities toward the reduction of those emissions. In fact, when you look at our strategic plan for 2022-2027, we have expanded that scope to be able to address the issues of sustainability and climate change.
We have 4.2 million cows, which of course have a lot of impact on our climate. When you look at the productivity per cow, it’s still very low at seven liters per cow. Meaning we have very many animals, but production is very, very low. We’re looking at areas of increasing dairy productivity through improved feeding and ensuring that we have available and quality feed because poor quality feed affects the quality of milk and milk products. We want to enhance access to public land so that we can be able to produce quality feed and make it available for our farmers so that they don’t suffer during drought. We are looking at renewable clean energy in cooling, processing, storage, transportation, and distribution. We also have activities around the management of manure through the construction of biogas plants. When you look at the installed biogas plants that we have in the country, and the number of farmers, it’s still very, very low. We have about 188 and we have an estimated 2 million farmers. If we can be able to increase that, we’ll be able to manage issues of methane emissions, and of course, improve on environmental issues.
Consumer awareness key to ensuring milk safety
A well-informed consumer on issues of milk safety and quality will make an informed choice. As a Board, we continue educating our consumers and we have a lot of programs designated for that. We do participate in activities to be able to increase awareness and strengthen our consumers to be able to make the right choice. Food safety at the national level can be addressed through many strategies and we are looking at three strategies; strengthening food controls, assessing the risks which are both chemical and microbiological risks so that we can be able to mitigate and come up with urgent interventions; we also look at the 5 basics of food safety. We continue coming up with those strategies and various initiatives to address the challenges of food safety and quality. I want to assure all of you of our commitment as a Board to be part of the wider community looking for solutions for food safety. I wish to also thank the organizers of this Summit for wanting to have much more interactions to be able to address the solutions together. Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity and I want to wish you good deliberation. We look forward to the outcomes and how KDB can be a part of the solutions.”
This feature appeared in the November 2022 issue of Food Safety Africa. You can read the magazine HERE