Selina Chepngeno Sigei is a 43-year old mother of 7 children who lives in Bomet county. Previously, her husband was the main breadwinner for the family; however, in 2011, Selina decided to purchase a cow and begin producing milk to help supplement the family income. Later, she decided to diversify her own business activities by beginning to work as a milk aggregator and transporter.
Selina provides these services as a member of the Simbewet dairy management group which supplies milk to MEDA partner Siongiroi Dairy. Siongiroi is a dairy company based in Bomet county which aggregates milk from smallholder farmers and then chills and markets it on their behalf. Through the M-SAWA project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), MEDA has been working with Siongiroi since 2017. M-SAWA has provided Selina and her fellow group members with production trainings and access to a number of technologies such as modernized milk carrying containers, an alcohol gun (used to test for contamination) and a lactometer (which tests the density of milk based on the amount of water).
These trainings and technologies helped address one of Selina’s key challenges – milk contamination due to poor milk handling techniques. Due to the poor infrastructure in the region, it is particularly important that all of the milk which Selina transports is of sufficient quality so it is not rejected at the processing factory due to contamination: “Since MEDA started to work with Siongiroi, we have received trainings on animal husbandry, proper feeding regiment, and received technologies to help us test the quality of our milk”, relates Selina.
Today, Selina and other aggregators can use the alcohol gun to test the quality of milk at the source before transporting it to the factory, eliminating the issue of milk rejection. The modern milk carrying containers are also easy to clean and have reduced milk spillage and spoilage rates. Since Selina is paid by the litre, this reduction in losses increases the income from her aggregation business.
As Selina continues to produce milk with her one cow as an additional income source, she is also maximizing her own production through applying her training in improved feeding and plans to expand this portion of her business: “I feel confident that I can buy another cow for milk production due to all this training and experience I have.” The project has also helped Selina build her confidence and leadership skills through engaging as a trainer of other transporters and farmers in the area.
Selina plans to reinvest her profits to expand her dairy farm by purchasing at least one more high yielding cow as well as purchase a motorcycle so that she can have even better returns in her milk transporting business.
The availability of modern technologies at the farm-level plays a critical role in reducing milk losses due to poor handling, maximizing the incomes of farmers and aggregators like Selina while ensuring that Siongiroi is able to consistently meet market demand for quality milk.