Thirst for quality milk drives Kenya Dairy Board to invest, seek better sector regulation.

Milk, often termed as a “super food” is a common source of protein in every Kenyan household. Even though this commodity is a go-to breakfast commodity, many  are not conversant with the body that ensures the milk and milk products that reach their tables are safe and of high quality.

Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) is a state corporation under the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries established through an Act of Parliament, CAP 336 of the Laws of Kenya.

During its 62 years of existence, KDB’s role has continued to evolve in line with changing government policies and priorities, spearheading development in the industry. The dairy industry is an important source of food, employment, incomes and wealth in Kenya.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that it contributes 14% of Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with an annual growth rate of 4.1% compared to 1.2% of the general agriculture sector.

While dairy farming is currently the single largest sub sector of agriculture in Kenya and an important source of livelihood to approximately 1 million small scale farmers, it has not always been so. Dairy farming goes way back to the 1900s when it was run by the colonialists.

As Africans were also eager to have a share of the market, a committee was formed in early 1940’s chaired by the Department of Agriculture of the time, which led to the development of the Swynnerton plan of 1948 that recommended the inclusion of Africans in dairy farming.

As Joseph Stiglitz once said, we can’t function as a society without rules and regulations and the enforcement mechanism of those rules and regulations, hence as the sector expanded, and the stakeholders struggled to enhance the quality of milk and its products, the Kenya Dairy Board was birthed through an ACT of parliament CAP. 336 laws of Kenya in 1958.

Hierarchy of leadership

The Board consists of 14 members comprised of the Chairman and a Vice-Chairman, Managing Director and 11 Directors, all appointed by the Minister.

The Board is currently chaired by Anthony Mutugi with Sarah Boit as the Vice-chairperson and Margaret Kibogy as the Managing Director.

According to the Dairy Industry Act Cap. 336, three members of the Board are obliged to retire one year after the first appointment of members, and thereafter three members of the Board are to retire annually in rotation. The members to retire are usually those who have served incessantly for the longest time. The Board is mandated to appoint a committee to represent the interests of consumers and is also free to form such other committees as it may deem necessary, to examine and report to it on any matter whatsoever arising out of or connected with any of its functions or powers.

Mandate of the Board

According to the Managing Director, Margaret Kibogy, the board’s mandate has remained intact in its 62 years of existence, however the functions keep on evolving – all centered around quality.

Regulation is the core mandate of Kenya Dairy Board. It involves enforcement of the Dairy Industry Act Cap. 366. Activities undertaken include inspection and licensing of milk handling premises and surveillance on the quality and safety of milk and milk products along the dairy value chain. These aim at consumer protection and facilitation of trade.

“The board is mandated to regulate, develop and promote the Kenyan dairy industry,” Kibogy informed Food Safety Africa in an interview.

KDB carries out inspections of milk handling premises on a quarterly basis to monitor compliance with the requirements of the Dairy Industry Act Cap 336 and other public health regulations through its 27 branches and national laboratory.

“Apart from the head office based in Nairobi, we have 27 other branch offices all over the country, each under a branch manager, but mainly in the key milk producing and consumption areas. Our aim is to eventually penetrate all the 47 counties in Kenya,” said Kibogy.

As new challenges arise, the Board is moving towards risk-based inspections as opposed to conventional ones. The inspection process is automated and well-structured to ensure standardization, objectivity and efficiency. Non compliances are addressed through technical advisory services and other legal procedures.

On licensing, milk dealers are required to obtain relevant licenses and permits from the sector regulator. Premises dealing with milk and milk products are first inspected to establish compliance to milk quality and safety requirements prior to licensing. Routine inspections are subsequently conducted to monitor continued compliance, of which non-compliances may lead to a revoke of the license.

Supporting growth of the sector

Supporting the development of the Kenyan dairy industry is an important mandate of the Board, which has led to Kenya becoming the leading dairy industry player in Africa.

By the end of 2021, the regulator had issued permits to 35 processors, 42 mini dairies, 132 cottage industries, 226 milk dispensers, 1,069 milk bars and 282 cooling plants across the country.

Capacity building of stakeholders and trade facilitation are some of the activities KDB undertakes to support the growth of the industry. The Board therefore takes on various activities like training, technology transfer, stakeholder organization and dissemination of dairy data and information, to build the capacity of stakeholders to increase milk production, value addition and compliance.

In addition, KDB participates in the development and review of dairy standards as a member of the Milk and Milk Products Technical Committee of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the country’s standardization body. It has thus far established standards for all the mainstream milk and milk products and harmonized nine dairy standards at the East African Community (EAC) level.

Further, it engages in various activities to promote domestic, regional and international markets for Kenyan milk and milk products. It accomplishes this through the issuance of export and import permits for dairy produce, strengthening ties with regional dairy regulatory authorities, promoting adoption of school milk and participating in regional and international trade negotiations.

Through consumer education programs, KDB sensitizes consumers and the general public on the importance of consuming quality and safe milk and milk products, thereby driving demand for compliance in the dairy value chain. It also champions for increased consumption of milk and milk products for nutritional and health benefits.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the Board donates milk to underprivileged members of the society and backs structured dairy groups to enable them comply with requirements.

Apart from the head office based in nairobi, we have 27 other branch offices all over the country, each under a branch manager.

Margaret Kibogy – Managing Director, KDB


New laboratory investment

In 2021, KDB launched the National Dairy Laboratory to boost its capacity to conduct quality surveillance and safety compliance. The operationalization of the laboratory will enhance food quality, nutritional security, increased manufacturing through processing, value addition, traceability, product diversification and market penetration, according to the MD.

“Prior to establishing the lab, we faced challenges in managing the informal sector in regards to quality as we did not have the capacity to test the products. We used private labs to carry out the analysis, which are not accessible to the common person and also quite cost intensive.”

The lab is basically a regulatory lab where the board evaluates samples collected from the field and issues reports for necessary corrective action. “Eventually, we want it to become a commercial lab where other people can contract us to conduct analyses of their product samples,” she noted.

New regulations to steer dairy subsector

In March 2021, the Board introduced new regulations to streamline the management of the dairy industry and facilitate export of milk products to neighboring countries, replacing the old regulations of 2006.

The new regulations provide for the safety of dairy products through labeling, examination, calibration, records, storage, and distribution for the value chain actors. They also aim at enhancing consumer protection and safety of dairy produce, improving access to information on marketed dairy produce, and providing a mechanism for tracing and recall of dairy produce.

The rules, now collectively known as the Dairy Industry Regulations 2021 comprise the Dairy Industry (Registration, Licensing, Cess and Levy) Regulations, the Dairy Industry (Returns, Reports and Estimates) Regulations, the Dairy Industry (Compliance Officer) Regulations and the Dairy Industry (Produce Traceability and Recall) Regulations.

Others include the Dairy Industry (Milk Sales Contracts) Regulations, the Dairy Industry (Pricing of Dairy Produce) Regulations, the Dairy Industry (Imports and Exports) Regulations, and the Dairy Industry (Dairy Produce Safety) Regulations.

According to the MD, the Board is developing a dairy food safety manual that each dairy business operator will be required to be equipped with upon registration by the board, thereby helping towards achieving self-regulation, leading to a reduction in food safety issues in the dairy sector.

The Board is also exploring mass communication avenues that will also help create consumer sensitization and promotion of safe milk and milk products.

Annual award to motivate industry players

In 2019, Kenya Dairy Board, in partnership with the Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association (ESADA) debuted an Annual Dairy Industry Award scheme termed Kenya Dairy Industry Awards.

The Awards seek to identify and reward some of the value chain actors who have adopted practices and technologies to enhance good animal husbandry practices and enhance efficiency in milk collection. They also aim to recognize the efforts made in innovation and new product development, and implementation of quality assurance programs.

Details of the unique practices implemented by the winners is shared during the award ceremony to provide lessons to other value chain actors who are striving to meet the demands of a highly competitive market environment. Adoption of best practices in the industry would enable the country to deliver dairy products to markets around the world competitively.

The awards scheme also provide a platform for sharing innovations and experiences amongst stakeholders and hence create an impetus, thereby transitioning the industry into a more productive and competitive dairy industry that meets not only local but international standards.

The Kenya Dairy Board has also implemented the County School Milk program that has currently been adopted by 7 counties in line with Chapter 4 of the Kenyan constitution, which  provides children with the basic right to access basic education and nutrition. The school milk program therefore provides County Governments with the opportunity to deliver on these important constitutional mandates.

“The issue of finances is our major challenge. As such, we are trying to work very closely with the counties to offer them capacity building so that they are able to put up a budget for Early Childhood Development (ECD) as it is a devolved function,” explained Kibogy.

With the industry growing at nearly 5 percent per annum in production and 7 percent in processing and value addition as enlightened by the Managing Director, improved milk production and productivity, value addition, compliance and market access are integral to a sustainable dairy value chain. Kenya, in 2020, processed about 684 million liters of milk, an increase of 9.5 percent from 2019.

“The dairy sector has a very huge potential for growth. When you look at the people who are investing in the sector, you realize there are new players coming in. We even have development partners who are interested in dairy, justifying the potential it has. The logs will always be there, but we’ll always find a way of addressing them,” she remarked.

This feature appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Food Safety Africa. You can read the magazine HERE