AIRTEA PROJECT INNOVATION PLATFORM MEETING

Today, the CEC Trade, Tourism and Cooperative Development Nyeri County Diana Kendi officiated the opening of an innovation platform project dubbed; Strengthening Agricultural knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem for Inclusive Rural Transformation and Livelihoods in Eastern Africa (AIRTEA).

The two day innovation platform is being held at the White Rhino hotel bringing together various stakeholders in the dairy industry.

In his speech the CEO of CAK, Mr.Daniel Marube, noted that dairy farming is one of the lucrative agricultural activities in Kenya with so much potential and is well-known as one of Africa's biggest milk producers, contributing 30-40% of the 5% that Africa produces into the global numbers.

Dairy Farming is one of the priority Value Chains of the County Government of Nyeri under the leadership of H.E Governor Mutahi Kahiga. Dairy farmers are expected to benefit a great deal after the county government managed to procure 23 coolers and one milk pasteurizer to help enhance value addition in the sector.

The government has also promised to support dairy farmers and businesses in accessing affordable credit facilities through injection of funds to local cooperative societies. To date, Wakulima Dairy, Kieni Dairy, Sabeke Cooperative, Nyeri South Banana, Mukeni Poultry and Mwikuria Grains Cooperative Societies have benefited from monetary support from the county government of Nyeri.

The project is being coordinated by the Co-operative Alliance of Kenya which is the National Apex Organization for Kenya's Co-operative Movement. CAK represents over 24,000 co-operatives with over 14 million members drawn from different types of co-operatives such as financial, agricultural production, manufacturing, insurance,housing, transport among others.

The project is funded by the organization of Africa Caribbean and pacific states(OACPS) through ACP innovation fund funded by the European Union.

This is a 3rd party project leveraging the benefits of multi stake holders partnership to support rural women and youth in the dairy sector in Kenya.

The beneficiaries of this project are 15,000 smallholder and family women farmers, 5,000 being youth from 6 co- operative societies in 4 counties; Nyeri County with Endarasha FCS and Mukurwe-ini Wakulima Dairy, Embu with Mkulima Bora Dairy FCS and Mburugu Dairy FCS, Nyandarua with Nyala Dairy FCS and Kirinyanga County with Kirima Slopes Dairy FCS.

The specific objectives of this project are:

- To form a functional MSP for key stakeholders engaged in the dairy value chain

- To increase participation of women and youth farmers in value chain activities through delivery of economic support services

- To develop a knowledge sharing mechanism for farmers and other value chain actors

- To advocate for the enactment or implementation of enabling policy environment.

Also present were Peter Theuri Director Co-operatives, John Githinji Board member CAK, James Njue Board member CAK ,other stakeholders from Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Center(KAGRC), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Naivasha, New Kenya Co-operative Creameries, Kenya Dairy Board,Co-op Consultancy and Bancassuarance Intermediary , Performeter Agribusiness Ltd among others.